Training & Exercising During a Heatwave 🥵
I hope you guys are all having a good day and week & are enjoying this amazing weather we're having! I like to try to keep my blogs as relevant as possible as to what is going on in the world right now, within the equestrian community and also making sure I’m providing you guys with information that you need, find useful & can help you on your journeys!
So right now in the UK we are experiencing what most of us would call a heatwave so what better time to talk about how to keep yourself progressing, moving, and achieving your goals during the heat & hot weather. Whether we're riding, training or just moving around this week things probably feel alot harder than usual due to the heat.
I wrote a blog last year all about making sure you keep yourself hydrated in this heat and that will be my first point.
Over 55% of our bodies are made up of water and in hot temperatures we will lose more water than usual through extra sweating. If you are also consuming more water & fluids due to the heat you will obviously be going to the loo more, therefore you need to replace the water that is lost. I know for myself, training in the heat or when riding I sweat a lot more than usual so I try to increase my water intake around sessions and if needed add in an energy drink like Lucozade or Gatorade to make sure I have plenty of electrolytes & carbohydrates on board & to also help me want to drink more.
2-Think about the stress your body is under & safety
When it comes to exercising in this heat it’s the same as our horses and the first thing to think about would be safety and your well-being. Obviously, the hot temperatures put your body under more stress so you need to consider that and make sure what you are doing is safe.
When the weather is hot exercising will increase your core temperature which in extreme cases could lead to illness or serious damage. This isn’t a reason to stop training but it is a reason to think about what time of day and where you do your training so you can work hard but not put your body under too much stress!
Your heart has to work harder to pump blood around when the weather is hot too, on a hot day your body can circulate 2 to 4 times more blood than it typically would on a cooler day. So it’s worth remembering this if you’re thinking of getting out for a run or a big gym effort. Listen to your body, be sensible & think about how hard your body is having to work for you!
3-Train Early or Late in the Day; Avoid the heat of the day!
Obviously, the best way to avoid intense temperatures & putting your body under too much stress is by making sure you train at a sensible time of day before it gets too hot, just as you would with your horse.
Training before 9 am or after 6 pm would be my go-to advice and I try to stick to that myself as much as possible as I know the heat definitely affects me. Make sure you have a water bottle with you whatever you are doing and drink plenty.
Apply suncream and wear a sun cap if needed especially if you're out in the sun, the last thing you want is sun stroke or collapsing in the heat! If you do know that you struggle with the heat then consider the night before what time, where & what you're going to do exercise-wise that day. Remember sometimes missing one day of training or moving your schedule around may be more beneficial than just getting it done for the sake of it!
4-Wear Cool Clothing
When training in this weather and I know for me like I said I sweat a lot the last thing I want is to feel uncomfortable in my gym class or body. Finding gym outfits and workout wear that is breathable and allows you to sweat is really important to keep your body comfortable!
This won’t only help to regulate your core temperature but will also help you to feel more comfortable and therefore able to work at your usual high intensity without worrying about getting too hot or feeling disgusting.
Sweat-wicking fabrics can help to take the sweat right away & keep you cool rather than heavy fabrics that will just absorb and soak up your sweat! Not what you want in this weather.
5-Go for shorter periods of exercise
This is all personal as to how you deal with the heat but again if you know the heat affects you try reducing your workout time and go for shorter, slightly more intense bursts of exercise so you’re not out for prolonged periods of time especially if you do exercise outdoors.
The hot temperature and the sun will make our perceived effort feel harder so we will basically feel like we’re working harder even though we’re doing the same as usual so cutting back on the length of your workout can really help this and keep the work you do, do quality rather than losing form as you fatigue! Sometimes a shorter workout is far more effective than spending hours in the gym or outdoors
6-Consider Using the Pool & Cooling Off
There’s nothing better in this weather than jumping in a pool so if you have access to one why don’t you think about booking in for a swim?
In the UK there are lots of outside lido pools and they became really popular last year through Covid. It’s a great cardiovascular workout and a good way to exercise without putting too much stress or load on your limbs & not over-stressing your heart, as well as supporting your local community! It is also a nice refreshing thing to do in this weather! Find your local swim, stay safe & stick to pools but enjoy cooling off. Swimming workouts are great if you're getting back into training after injuries too!
7-Work with your body not against it!
As I always say you want to be making sure you’re working with your body, not against it so if you know that you do not fare well when it gets hot or out in the sun then change up your routine, remember there are always options out there and you don’t have to do the same as normal!
Maybe heading down to your local spin studio where the studio is fully Aircon and cool would be a more sensible idea than going out for a run in 30° heat. Use your common sense, listen to your body and do what feels best to keep yourself moving but make sure you think about the safety point of view. Just like your horse, you wouldn’t necessarily go cross country schooling on the hottest day of the year but you may well go for a dressage lesson in an indoor school where it’s nice and cool. Same principle applies to yourself!!!
8-Scale back the intensity of your exercise
Potentially reducing the intensity of your workout might be a good idea alongside reducing the time. This might mean going lighter on the weight than usual, not pushing as hard, or going for an easier run rather than a speed workout.
Don’t expect yourself to work as hard or as efficiently as normal in these super hot temperatures and don’t push to your max. You can focus on more skill-based work during this time or maybe some gymnastic practice to work on your weaknesses but you don’t need to be smashing yourself into the floor.
Remember if you go too hard, put your body under even more stress it’s just going to take you longer to recover, and worst case you might even do some damage or pick up an injury, not what we want!
At the end of the day, you’re trying to keep yourself moving as much as possible & like normal but you will need to adapt your normal routine around these high and unusual temperatures that we are experiencing right now.
Remember that adjusting your training & exercise for a week and going a little bit easier isn’t going to cause any lack of gains and you’re far better backing off for a week than pushing too hard. The whole point and fact we need to be aware of when exercising and training in the heat is to keep ourselves safe, move well and enjoy our sessions without totally killing ourselves.
Hopefully, these points help keep you safe, and like I said remember lowering the intensity or missing one session to keep yourself safe & more comfortable is not a bad choice! I hope this helps to keep you moving in the heat and to be mindful of your choices. Remember the same principles apply to you as your horse-you wouldn't train him outside in the scorch of the day so don't do it to yourself!
Enjoy the sunshine & keep moving....long may it last!