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The sun overlooking mountains and a beach.

The Pros & Cons of Working Out in the Heat

08/06/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

How to beat the heat while you train.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been warm in Vancouver lately.

Like, really warm. 

Hot, even.

Get the picture?

It’s been so hot in BC this summer that an air quality warning was released for the Metro Vancouver Area a couple weeks ago. People at the highest risk are infants, the elderly and people with underlying heart conditions, although anyone experiencing higher-than normal shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing or chest pain should get somewhere cool and dark as soon as possible. 

Part of this notice warned people to avoid strenuous activity outside in the mid-afternoon when ozone levels are at their highest.

So, don’t work out when it’s hot out. Got it.

Well, that’s not entirely true. 

Many people enjoy exercising in the heat because of the results they see. 

Pro

From Romeo Gerhardt, athletic trainer at the North Shore Winter Club’s ISIS gym, the main benefit of working out when it’s hot is pretty obvious: “Everything is warmer.”

Well, yeah!

“Your joints are warmer and your muscles are warmer. Your body is naturally engaged and ready to perform complex movements that you wouldn’t be able to do if it was cold and your limbs were all stiff.”

When it’s this hot out, our connective tissues leave more room for improvement, or building, so everything actually performs better, whether you're doing squats, bench-press or riding a stationary bike.

Con 

Running outside is a near-religious experience that’s not so easy to abandon when the thermometer pushes 30 degrees celsius. My Dad Certain people will blatantly lie about the heat so their family certain other people will get off their back about running outside.

“It’s not even that hot out, what are you people talking about?” - a lying liar.

Running or exercising under the sun can cause your body to overheat just like an ‘83 Chrysler with no AC. 

Sunstroke is a very real concern when it’s this hot outside. If you must continue jogging outside, at least follow these 4 rules:

  1. Drink an abnormal amount of water
  2. Seek the shade whenever possible
  3. Take the intensity down a notch
  4. Be careful and be aware of yourself

The second you start to feel thirst, weakness, dizziness, confusion or the feeling you might faint, you’re in trouble.

Pro

Working out inside when the sun is shining is a great motivator to build up that beach body. We all want to feel good and healthy when it comes time to show off some skin. Find a place to exercise with a pool in view to really taunt yourself.

Con

Working out inside when it’s hot outside means it will be harder to breathe. There’s less air flow in an indoor gym, therefore less oxygen will be available to the muscles. The fix for this is again to dial the intensity back a bit and focus on breathing properly in between and during sets.

Pro & Con: Hydration

Working out in the heat, whether you’re outside or inside, will naturally cause you to sweat more. This is fine as long as you’re keeping yourself properly hydrated. 

“Your primary energy system is always available to take nutrients from water or gatorade or even food. This keeps your body moving at the start of an exercise. After 15 seconds of the exercise you advance to the next energy system, and after 2 minutes you go to the next energy system.”

So Romeo, is that bad?

“It’s not bad, it just means you’re really pushing your body when you get to stage 3. Most exercises take more than 15 seconds, so you need to ensure you’re insulated or hydrated for each stage. Once you’ve hit stage 3, if your body isn’t sufficiently hydrated…”

You’re in trouble?

“You got it.”

Working Out & the Sun: Precaution

The people of the lower mainland suffer through 8 months of rain, so when the sun comes out in the summer it can be easy to overdo our exposure.

Fortunately there’s no reason you can’t keep your exercise routine going in the hot summer months, though you may need to make some modifications. In fact, as long as you take the proper precautions, you might even feel the urge to amp up your program.

So, hot enough for ya?

… I’ll show myself out. 

photo credit: Kuzeytac via photopin cc

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