All over South-Africa, summer temperatures are reaching new highs and in many places, it’s the hottest summer on record for hundreds of years. Opposite of what many people believe, exercising in the heat is not actually that dangerous. What can be dangerous is how we handle the heat. Nutrition and preparation are key.
Here are some of my tips for exercising in the South-African heat:
Plan when in the day to exercise
It’s the most simple but most important advice is to choose the right time of the day to exercise. When temperatures are reaching high 30’s or sometimes 40’s it’s smarter to train early in the morning or late at night to avoid the midday heat.
Plan where to exercise
Always choose shaded areas over places with direct sunlight if you are not able to go to a gym. If you also haven’t tried trail running, for example, this is the perfect summer to give it a go.
Add extra salt to food and drinks
Normally we are told to use less salt in our food, but during hot days it is actually really smart to add extra salt to your food. Salt (sodium) binds to water in the body and helps maintain the balance of fluids. If your salt levels are too low your body can’t bind anything, which makes you tired and swollen. Something that happens to women more often than men. So if you sweat a lot don’t forget to keep those salt levels healthy.
Drink 700-750ml an hour
When you’re training intensively you should consume a big bottle every hour. I personally tend to have one bottle with plain cold water and another bottle filled with a sports drink to boost those energy levels. It is also great to use rehydration tablets to help your body keep the correct salt levels.
Remember that you sweat when swimming
When temperatures reach new highs it is tempting to cool off with a swim rather than a run. It is important to remember, however, that you sweat in water (although you don’t feel it) and it is equally important to keep hydrating when swimming. So if you’re doing laps in the pool or just take a quick swim with friends, remember to take a bottle of water with you.
I hope that you incorporate these tips in your daily activity, good luck and enjoy this lovely summer weather while it lasts