We are in the midst of a heatwave. If you’re planning on heading out for a run or workout in the sun, you need to think about how you’ll recover when you come back. It’s not enough to look after yourself mid-session, we recover slower when it gets hot so here are five expert tips for recovering fully in the summer.
Working out in the summer can be tricky. On the one hand, the weather’s glorious and you want to enjoy that while getting stronger. On the other hand, anyone who’s ever cycled to work, done an outdoor weights session mid-heatwave or attempted a jog in the summer knows that everything feels harder in the heat. It’s not just during the exercise that you can feel slower, hotter and more lethargic, either; hot weather can also impact our rate of recovery.
How we recover is important. It improves our sleep, appetite and our ability to move ache-free in the near future. Get recovery wrong or neglect good recovery hygiene and you’ll soon start to suffer. While sleep, nutrition, stretching and stress all play vital roles in how well our bodies repair from exercise, weather can also be key.
Exercising in the unaccustomed heat can place extra stress on the body, with the biggest challenge being to avoid overheating. The key to exercising in the heat is to start gradually and allow the body time to gradually adapt to the heat. If you’re going for a 30-minute run, build gradually over the first 10 minutes so that your thermoregulatory system has time to adjust to the simultaneous stresses of the heat and exercise.
Exercising in a heatwave is obviously going to be harder than working out in cooler temperatures, and there are some basic things that you can do to make a workout safer in the heat, from wearing sunscreen to exercising in the early morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. But what about recovering after a session?
Recovering after a workout in the heat requires a change in strategy. While many ‘recovery fundamentals’ still apply – good nutrition, rehydration, sleep and active recovery (like yoga) are still important, “how you perform these techniques should be changed. When it’s super hot, you need to prioritize reducing your core body temperature and replenishing body fluids as quickly as possible, while ensuring that the other factors remain in place.
6 TIPS FOR SPEEDING UP RECOVERY WHEN IT’S HOT
While no one would recommend spending the whole of summer with your feet up, it’s worth being mindful that heatstroke can become a serious medical condition. Prioritizing good recovery when it’s hot isn’t just about feeling more comfortable; it also helps us to reduce our risk of injury and making heatstroke worse.
We always stress that recovery is a cornerstone of high athletic performance – no matter what level of athlete you are. Exercising in the heat stresses the body more than exercising in mild or cool conditions (the fastest marathon times are run at 11°C) so extra emphasis should be placed on safety and recovery during heatwaves. If you don’t recover fully for your next exercise session, you’re more likely to underperform and possibly be at a greater chance of getting injured.
SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE CAN INCLUDE