Fitness news: Why you should exercise in a heatwave

With care and proper hydration, science says a summer heatwave can be really good for your fitness goals

Man drinking water
(Image credit: Future)

It's due to hit record temperatures this weekend in the UK, with highs of an enormous 33 degrees celsius. These tropical temperatures might be great for those who want to make use of the easing of lockdown restrictions and hit the nearest pub gardens, but they're less than ideal for those of us who are still keen to exercise, but put off by the sweltering heat. 

However, even though the heat means you won't be able to exercise at your usual intensity, especially if you're doing it outside, there's still plenty of benefits to getting your workout gear on and training in the UK heatwave. 

One study from the Journal of Applied Physiology found if you start working out in the warm, your bod undergoes a process called "heat acclimation". It monitored twelve cyclists for ten days, with one group working out in a hot environment, and the other working out in a normal, cooler climate. 

The study found once both groups were back at normal temperature, the group which had been working out in the heat improved, being able to take in more oxygen during exercise and complete the time trial faster. The control group had not improved at all. 

Walk summer sun

(Image credit: Getty)

You can easily take these principles and apply them to your own training. Although you might be walking or jogging rather than cycling, getting used to exercising in the heat will improve your fitness once the temperature cools off. 

The body is understandably put under a lot more pressure in the intense heat, as it works harder to regulate your temperature by sweating. Adding the stress of a workout in, it's small wonder that you don't have to exercise quite as much to feel as though you've worked just as hard. 

However, if you can get your body used to exercising in all conditions, you'll find yourself fitter and stronger because of it. Just make sure you follow three simple principles of hot-weather training:

  • Hydrate. If you don't normally take a water bottle with you on your walk or run, make sure you do this time. Replace your fluids by drinking water after your workout as well. 
  • Don't overdo it. Trying to achieve your normal pace in very hot weather can be dangerous without proper training. Start slow. 
  • Take your phone. Many people treat their workouts as a time to switch off, or a form of digital detox. Make sure you take a phone and can contact in case you feel dehydrated or unwell. 

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.