For the past few months you have enjoyed walking and running outside in the parks, rollerblading own the creek, jogging on the beach, cycling on the back roads, playing netball or tennis on the outdoor courts and doing yoga on the lawns and then the summer comes along and…….. bam! The outdoor temperatures soar, sending us running indoors for some AC, and making keeping fit in the great outdoors extremely challenging to all but the hardiest and most dedicated of athletes. So what do you do? Hibernate and spend your summer watching box-sets and eating biscuits on the couch and undoing all your good work in the winter months? Or look at alternatives? Here are some ideas to keep you in shape when the heat is on.
Change your timings
It is still feasible to go jogging, walking, rollerblading or cycling or playing outdoor sports such as tennis or netball outdoors in the summer months in the early morning before the sun rises, or in the evening after sun set. Yes, it will still be hot as temperatures can still reach around 35 degrees at night during the height of summer, and it can be very humid, but once you acclimatise yourself and adapt your workout accordingly it is possible.
Do, however, take into consideration during your workout that if the humidity is very high then it is very hard for sweat to evaporate on your body when you get hot from exercising. Sweating and then the sweat evaporating off your skin is your body’s natural cooling system, so in high humidity conditions you can run the risk of overheating if you don’t pay attention to the signs and adjust your workout accordingly. If you feel too hot, dizzy, nauseous or faint, then reduce your exercise intensity immediately, drink water and seek cooler environment and you should immediately feel yourself begin to sweat and cool down. If symptoms continue, you should seek medical help.
If you are exercising alone outdoors in the hours of darkness, do also be sure to keep yourself safe and if possible opt for areas which are floodlit or have streetlights and stick to well-known routes. If you are going to be out on the street during your workout with cars whizzing by, it may also be a good idea to wear a reflective band or vest to alert drivers.
Take the Outdoors Indoors
Okay, so the view may not be as stunning as that along the beach front which is your normal winter jogging route, but in order to keep your fitness levels up in the summer months working out in the gym is an option available for many. A lot of the apartment blocks and villa compounds in Dubai have shared facilities including a gym, with varying quality of equipment and space, and with the plethora of private gyms and studios which seem to keep springing up on a weekly basis, there is bound to be facilities in convenient proximity to your home or work.
Cardio Based Workouts
Most gyms have ‘cardio’ machines to get your heart rate up and give you an indoor alternative to running, walking, cycling, and rowing as well as stair climbing and elliptical striding. You can use the machines similarly to how you would probably train outdoors, ie, steady state training by keeping a regular pace for a prolonged period, although this can for some be a little boring. Beat the boredom by bringing along a book to read whilst on the bicycle, or bring your ipad to watch whilst on the treadmill or elliptical strider – the up and down movement on these machines makes reading difficult, so it is much easier to watch a screen. Some machines already have built in screens so you can bring along your earphones and plug in and watch during your workout, a guaranteed way to lessen the boredom of a steady state workout.
Alternatively, why not do interval training on the cardio machines? This means varying the intensity of the exercise up and down over small timed intervals throughout the whole of the workout. So, eg, for 10 minutes on the bike you could do 45 seconds at a regular pace (rest interval) and then sprint for the last 15 seconds of every minute (work interval). Not only does this help to split the workout up into chunks making it less boring, interval training is also a very well scientifically researched way of increasing fitness levels and optimising fat burning, and it is time efficient too. You can apply similar techniques to each piece of equipment, using speed or resistance to increase intensity, but be sure initially to choose a longer rest period than work period, aiming to reduce the rest period as you get fitter. Also be sure to choose appropriate times for the machine you use, bearing in mind eg, it takes a while for a treadmill to pick up/slow down pace or elevation.
Group Exercise Classes
The summer is a great time to discover group exercise and with the glut of classes available here in Dubai, there is something to suit everyone’s preference and fitness levels. Whether you like high intensity cardio, cycling, martial arts, traditional aerobics, yoga, strength and stamina training, and even Indoor Walking group classes, there is bound to be a class you would like conveniently located for you. Increasingly more and more independent gyms and studios are offering ‘pay as you go’ sessions or packages of sessions so if you are unsure if group exercise is for you, you can try out a few sessions without having to make that commitment to the entire year’s gym membership. Also, many places are offering trial sessions to attract new members, so be sure to look out for these and take advantage. What have you got to lose? (Except for a few excess kilos!)
Exercise at Home
If you really hate the idea of working out in a gym environment, then you can still work up a sweat in the comfort of your own home. As long as you have enough room to move around a little without knocking into things, then you can do basic workout at home. There are countless Fitness DVD’s that you can buy from shops or online which you can easily follow in front of your TV at home. They all tend to follow a particular trend or discipline – aerobics, yoga, Pilates, strengthening and toning, dance – so you can choose one that appeals to you and to meet your fitness goals. Good visuals help to ensure you do the moves correctly, which is good for the beginner to working out. Alternatively, many of the Fitness Magazines and websites publish workouts which you can follow at home, requiring little or no equipment. If you have no equipment you can get a perfectly good workout using your body weight only, however, if you want to vary your workout more then it may be wise to invest in some basic equipment. This doesn’t have to be expensive; Just a Swiss ball, a mat, some resistance tubings or bands, and a couple of light weight dumbells (eg, 1, 2 or 3kgs) will increase your repertoire of exercises immensely. Be safe whilst exercising at home – make sure you have enough space so if you fling your arms around you won’t knock vases flying, and keep your pets out of the way to avoid tripping and squishing poor kitty whilst grapevining away!
If you have access to a chilled pool then swimming is an alternative cardio based exercise that you can do during the hotter months. It is, however, probably still best to avoid the hottest parts of the day to swim and to wear a hat to avoid sunstroke if you are out in full sunshine. If you are working hard and increasing your core temperature through exercise then you must take into account ways to cool down afterwards, as in the summer months you cannot rely on the air temperature to help, therefore cold showers and cooling down in the AC and drinking plenty water after your swim is important. Do also be sure to take care of your eyes, the reflection on the pool from blazing sunlight can strain the eyes, so wearing sunglasses or tinted goggles may be a good idea to protect your eyes from the glare.
Taking into consideration the above and the fact that the summer is generally a less socially active time of the year, then rather than being a period of inactivity, the summer time may actually be a good time to set yourself some fitness goals. Plus, you’ll be the envy of your friends with your fitter, slimmer figure when the cooler beach weather returns once again. So what are you waiting for..?!