It’s the classic contradiction of a heatwave: on the one hand you wanna look bangin’ wearing only a vest top and a pair of denim short shorts, on the other it’s so hot you can’t bear the thought of exercising in case you actually expire.
This is the type of weather where I turn to Magnum ice creams and Prosecco as my main forms of sustenance, so there’s no way I can give up on exercise. So how can you keep fit in a heatwave without melting? Here are my top tips…
Get it done early
There’s nothing that motivates you to go for a run at 6.30am quite like the knowledge that it’s only going to get hotter outside.
I also have a slight obsession with early morning London in the summer – there’s something quite magical about that hazy sunshine and the feeling that you have normally busy places all to yourself.
The other benefit of exercising early is that it doesn’t matter if you get waylaid by spontaneous evening drinks in the sunshine – with your workout done, you’re free to kick back on those long summer evenings with friends/gins.
Wear proper workout gear
When it’s boiling hot I appreciate the value of good quality fitness gear more than any other time – mainly because if you’re wearing a fabric that’s too thick or doesn’t have sweat-wicking properties you can REALLY tell once the temperature soars.
I’m often asked if expensive fitness gear is worth it and personally I would say it is – my Sweaty Betty leggings may have cost £90, but I always reach for them when I want to stay comfy in gruelling conditions (in fact, if they’re clean I’ll always reach for them over every other pair of leggings I own, because they fit so well, hold everything in and include magic bum-lifting properties).
You don’t have to spend close to a hundred quid for good fitness gear though – high street sports chains are always offering high-tech garments in the sale – but this is not the time to go for more ‘fashion’ fitness stuff from New Look or Primark, as you’ll end up an angry, sweaty mess.
Oh and if you’re exercising outside always wear sun cream with UVA and UVB protection – otherwise you might achieve a great bod in the short term, but you’ll end up a wrinkly old prune in the long term.
Embrace the gym/studio
You know why you should be super, super excited about going to the gym during a heatwave? Because it has AIRCON. Honestly, what more could you want?
Seriously though, most gyms and studios are way cooler than your actual home when it’s boiling hot outside, so if anything you can use that as motivation to work out more, not less.
When you’re feeling sluggish and knackered because you’ve been too sweaty to sleep properly for a week, going to a fitness class can seem like a living nightmare, but the endorphin boost will leave you feeling energised (and perhaps tire you out enough that you can sleep despite the sweaty bedroom).
Change cardio for weights
If you seriously can’t deal with the thought of elevating your daily sweat levels with a cardio session, then don’t skip your workout – try strength training instead.
Squats, deadlifts, dumbbell workouts and planks are less likely to see you over-heat than a full-on cardio session, plus, in my experience, they are even better for transforming your body as summer holidays beckon.
Feeling nervy about trying weights for the first time? Read my guide to overcoming your fear here.
Sorry to state the absolute obvious, but if you are sweating buckets due to exercise, you need to drink plenty to keep those hydration levels up.
I’ve made the mistake before of setting off on a 10k run without any water, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to carry it, and ending up feeling dizzy, headache-y and extremely grumpy afterwards.
It’s not easy to carry around two litres of water when you’re actually exercising, so I recommend having plenty of water before your workout (I swig a couple of pint glasses as soon as I get up – LAD), as well as carrying water with you.
During the current heatwave I’ve been walking everywhere – particularly because if the choice is 20 sweaty minutes on the tube or 40 minutes walking, I’d rather take the longer, less horrific option!
I’ve also been meeting up with friends for a walk on the weekend, rather than always having to sit down together for a blow-out meal – it’s such an easy, enjoyable way to get exercise in the sun, and is great for your mental wellbeing as well as burning calories.
Don’t be hard on yourself
There are a few times when I’ve been running outside recently where I’ve had to take my pace right down to cope with the heat – and that’s fine.
A heatwave is not the time to aim for a PB, or think that you can suddenly up your mileage – it could actually be dangerous to push yourself too far in such harsh conditions. There will be many, many months of colder weather in which you can run for your life or go for that epicly long bike ride. For now just focus on staying alive and thinking about the lovely cold shower you can have at the end. Dreamy.