It’s a sweltering 38 degrees, the sun is beating down mercilessly and the humidity is sapping you of all your energy. All you’d like to do is cool off in an air-conditioned room. But then there’s that workout routine to consider. You’ve been training all year and seem to be closer to your goal; there’s no way you want to cut back after all that progress. But the weather can make it difficult to spend any time outdoors. Besides, the combination of heat, high body temperature and exercise is not entirely too good. How then does one stay fit without risking dehydration, or worse, a heat stroke?
“Ideally, a workout routine should be limited to 45 minutes or one hour in these hot months, since dehydration is a major concern,” says Navneeth Krishnan, sports physiotherapist at Primal Patterns. “Overdoing a workout could lead to an electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps and headaches. So, it’s best to modify your workout routine and timings according to the weather; especially if you are the outdoorsy kind and like to work out in the open.”
With so many people taking to running and biking these days to stay fit, keeping up with their daily schedule can be a challenge in the summer. But the key, say trainers, is to stay hydrated and get adequate rest. Adarsh Gopalakrishnan, trainer at Movement Inc, says, “A major goal should be to drink adequate water or tender coconut water and remain well rested while training during summers. This is crucial to ensure your training experience is safe.”
Scaling down on your routine might not be such a bad idea either, but it’s best to check with your trainer. “In terms of increasing or decreasing your training volume or changing your programme, it is best to consult your trainer, as it varies from person to person, depending on their experience levels and goals,” says Adarsh.
But as a general tip, fitness expert Raj Ganpath, recommends, “It is ideal to focus on strength work and do limited endurance work during such extreme weather conditions in places like Chennai, where it is both hot and humid. Scaling down on cardio regimes might be a good idea too in this weather.”
For those who work out indoors, Navneeth recommends sipping water at regular intervals in between their exercise sets. “When you’re working out in an air-conditioned environment, it isn’t as bad. But hydration still remains a key factor. So, drink water between sets; not too much, just slow, small sips,” he says, adding, “It’s also best to keep your trainer informed about how you are feeling and about your RPE (rate of perceived exertion), so he/she can design or alter your routine accordingly.”
Another great way to beat the heat is to begin exercising earlier in the day. Experts recommend wrapping up any outdoor workouts before 8 a.m., and if you prefer the cooler evenings, then opt to step out after 6 p.m. A big believer in working outdoors, singer Tanvi Shah, has taken to waking up earlier in summer to beat the heat and catch some fresh air. “Given the heat, there’s no other option really. I’m a very outdoorsy person, so I begin my day at 4.45 a.m. I usually work out on my terrace — some lunges, stretches, pull ups, sit ups and planks. It’s fun to exercise outdoors. I hit the gym thrice a week in the evenings for some squats, deadlifts and assisted lunges. I’m not really a fan of the treadmill; I’d really rather run outdoors and I usually run up to 5 km. The days I’m not at the gym, I like to go swimming or do a bit of yoga and stretches depending on my mood.”
She adds that her focus has been on working on strength and conditioning. “Meditation also figures big in my routine. It’s an everyday thing.”