How to exercise in a heatwave – What to do and what to avoid

Authorities warned people to take extra precautions in the scorching sunshine on Thursday with temperatures forecasted to hit 33C in some areas. The Met Office said UV levels are a real concern. But for those who like to exercise outdoors, how can you exercise safely during a heatwave?

The hot weather can make many ordinary daily tasks difficult such as sleeping and working.

But another concern for many Britons is working out.

For those who are keen on exercise, missing out due to the intense heat can be hazardous to one’s mental health, but exercising in scorching temperatures can pose a real threat. has compiled a list of methods to help you exercise safely during a heatwave.


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Exercise time and type

In the UK, the sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm from March to October.

Therefore you should try to avoid exercising in the hot sun between these times.

Ideally, you should try to get up for an early morning workout as it is much likely to be cooler at dawn than at sunset.

It is also best to adapt your exercise routine to suit the heat.

Swapping a long run for interval training or circuits allows your body to rest, cool down and enables you to take more fluids during exercise.

In addition, you should try to keep to the shade as much as possible.

Stay hydrated

Within the first half an hour of beginning your workout, you should try to drink around half a litre of water.

After that time you should continue to top yourself up.

Whether you are planning a long run or cycle, you should also try to pass points where you will be able to top up your water bottle to avoid running out of water.

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Avoid overdressing

Wearing appropriate clothing is an important factor when exercising generally, but in the intense heat it is important to ensure your clothing is lightweight and manages moisture well.

Breathable, lightweight and light-coloured workout attire can help enable sweat to evaporate and therefore help your body’s natural cooling mechanism.

Wear sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is key.

You should always try to wear suncream with at least SPF 30 to ensure you are protected.

Be sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas before you leave home and if you intend to exercise for a long duration, such as a long cycle, you should try to take some sunscreen with you to top up on route.

Listen to your body

You can regulate your heat better by running or exercising at a slower pace overall.

By slowing down you can more ably control the heat you generate.

You should also follow your impulses, for instance, if you feel thirsty make sure to have a drink and if you faint, slow down or take a break.

If you begin to feel unwell at all, you should stop immediately, try to recover in the shade and seek help if you continue to feel unwell.

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