How have you handled exercising in the heat this summer? Once the weather shifts you notice a change in performance. All of a sudden your easy, average workout you have been doing for weeks seems to exhaust you. Have you ever wondered why?
Research shows it can take 9-12 days of exercising to improve our tolerance to exercising in the heat. You need to exercise consecutive days to adjust.
When beginning, it is common to only tolerate about 45 minutes of aerobic exercise in hot conditions at 60% VO2max, a moderately light intensity. In under 2 weeks, research shows most athletes will adapt to tolerate 80 minutes. Elite athletes at the peak of training can often adapt to changes in the environment at a faster rate.
Several factors influence the magnitude of adaptation you can achieve. How often you exercise and the number of times you expose your body to hot weather conditions will influence the degree of adaptation. The variance of how long you exercise and at what intensity will also affect your outcome.
Studies show exercising at a moderate intensity for 30-35 minutes will reap the same changes as a low intensity, long duration exercise lasting 60 minutes.
Is there a difference between dry heat and humid heat you might wonder? Humid heat causes skin temperatures to rise higher than in a dry heat. This results in more circulatory adaptations from exercising in humid conditions. If you live in a dry climate, you can still benefit from training for a race in a humid hot location although it is best to train in the climate you will race in. Body adaptations to the environment will last 2-4 weeks.
Beyond adjusting elements of exercise and being aware of environmental factors, is there anything more you can do to boost performance? Yes. Hydration. Hydration is key to aerobic performance.
Next week...look for part 2 to discover how you can perform at your peak even in warm weather.