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Exercising in hot weather (no aircon!)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 25, 2010 at 5:36 PM

I usually work out at home with bodyweight exercises, high-intensity interval sprints on a stationary bike, kettlebells, and lifting various random weights (as heavy as I can find). Can't afford a gym for the time being, and do not have air-con at home.

It works great most of the year but now that temperatures are starting to reach 30 celsius (86 F) and humidity is around 80-90%, I'm struggling to get anywhere near my usual intensity and duration. I get absolutely drenched in sweat after just 10 min of warmup, face glistening and red like a tomato - making the warmup feel like I've just completed an entire hardcore workout routine... not fun.

Should I just carry on and plough through the toughness (hoping there is some beneficial increased condition/hormesis type of effect going on), or listen to my body which feels like it's saying "slow down now, this isn't a great time to be making huge demands"? I don't want to stop exercising althogether, it makes me feel great and physically I am now in better shape than ever before (I'm in my 20s) - not something I want to lose through inactivity!

How do you deal with heat and exercise? Do you reduce/adapt your routine? Also, is there anything diet-wise that can be done to increase heat tolerance (maybe eat more veggies, water, or reduce calories)?

(Note: I eat high-fat paleo - with some dairy and very little fruit).

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on July 12, 2010
at 01:20 PM

Keith Norris (TTP-blog) just posted this: http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/vindication-%E2%80%9Cmaps%E2%80%9D-and-the-athletic-vagabond/ good stuff!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on June 27, 2010
at 09:57 AM

Jae, subjective feelings of fatigue are indeed not always accurate, if you mean the are directly related to the 'real' fatigue of your organism. They are a product of the brain and the brain produces them for your (darwinian) best. But my point was that it is just this subjective feeling that drives the neuro-hormonal responses to a workout. This is very similar to pain mechanisms, which is scientifically wel understood. Fatigue research is not that well established, but is ongoing, especially in the face of the big problem of chronique fatigue.

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on June 27, 2010
at 02:39 AM

On the plus side, if you do a lot of heavy lifting in your job during busy season, sounds like at least you're getting a decent workout every day even though it's not what you'd prefer to do, so no need to feel guilty about missing the gym (just my thoughts). I live in a big city so the woods are a bit of a trek away. Not much of a runner either. Suppose I could take up parkour, I've been tempted several times. It's still hot and humid outside, though. Yoga sounds nice, I'll try that at home. Love your last paragraph. So true. (although I do happen to love lemons! they're my new apples, hehe)

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 26, 2010
at 03:39 PM

Subjective feelings of fatigue or even pain are SOMETIMES accurate, sometimes not. Especially as we get older, it's important to be conservative in our assessment of how much we "should" be able to push through. In the old days, if I got injured, I would shrug it off. Now, it sets back my training by several weeks if not months, sometimes as long as a year! Just not worth it IMO.

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on June 25, 2010
at 07:51 PM

"Workout intensity is relative" - interesting idea and it makes a lot of sense. Right now it certainly *feels* like half a workout is just as taxing as a whole one used to be a month ago. I just wonder whether subjective feelings of fatigue or even pain (which are influenced by so many physical and psychological factors) are an accurate indicator of the actual demand/stress the body is being subjected to...

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7 Answers

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2
77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 25, 2010
at 07:23 PM

Definitely listen to your body, from a safety standpoint. That's one lesson I wish I'd learned earlier, but as I get older, I'm starting to get it.

Sweating and being drenched is fine.

Pushing yourself past the point where you might do damage from dehydration or heat stroke is not. Back off a little, see how you do, and ramp up the intensity later if you can.

best answer

2
Dfd71315b44a74520ead7d6752e70fc7

(678)

on June 26, 2010
at 12:42 PM

I am having a similar issue. Thanks to the wonderful American economy, I have been stuck working at a greenhouse wholesaler for over a year now. From September through April, it's a pretty easy job with doing prep work, working in the lab, filling pots, moving stuff, etc... You leave work with adequate energy levels and you can bring intensity to your work-outs. But starting in May, the busy season starts and your schedule gets thrown to the wolves and exercise is a luxury. Now, we are dismantling some greenhouse to be replaced, meaning I am lifting heavy shit all day and this week it was 90+ and clear skies all week. I got one work-out in this week and that's been it.

I feel guilty not going to the gym or sticking to my triathlon training (not paleo I know but I'm doing it barefoot!) but paleo fitness is about adaptation. Life is hard and sometimes kettlebell snatches just have to wait. If you kill yourself at work and THEN do a hard intense work-out in the heat, what are you doing to your body? Especially because I'm not sleeping the 8 hours a day I should be. So my recommendation is adapt. What is your living situation like, as in where do you live? Do you live near the woods? Hiking may not be as intense as lifting rocks but there usually are rocks abound in the woods :o). You can adjust the intensity based upon the temp. Do some Erwan LeCorre MovNat stuff outside. Do you run at all? I've started barefoot running recently and that can be a bit easier to deal with in terms of heat. Are you close to a swimming hole? Not only is swimming a great work-out but it has a ton of real world practicability. How do you feel about yoga? If you can find a good instructor for a decent price, yoga can help with your mobility and flexibility if done right AND they probably have AC. If you can't afford a class, spend some time working on your flexibility and mobility on your own. Do some short, intense work-outs (maybe no more than 20 minutes, if that) and take some time outside to really work on opening your hips and chest and stretching your hamstrings.

You know the old saying, "When life hands you lemons, you paint that shit gold". Grab a paintbrush brotha.

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on June 27, 2010
at 02:39 AM

On the plus side, if you do a lot of heavy lifting in your job during busy season, sounds like at least you're getting a decent workout every day even though it's not what you'd prefer to do, so no need to feel guilty about missing the gym (just my thoughts). I live in a big city so the woods are a bit of a trek away. Not much of a runner either. Suppose I could take up parkour, I've been tempted several times. It's still hot and humid outside, though. Yoga sounds nice, I'll try that at home. Love your last paragraph. So true. (although I do happen to love lemons! they're my new apples, hehe)

best answer

2
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on June 25, 2010
at 07:20 PM

just a thought, no real science to back this up:

Workout intensity is what drives adaptive responses, and it is a relative thing. If heat and humidity increase the intensity, it could be that the hormetic response remains the same, even though the weights you lift are lower.

So exercise until you feel the same kind of fatigue (+/- same kind of training intensity). Keith Norris at http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/ talks about this kind of thing and calls it autoregulation (although I don't remember him using this principle with heat)

(Edit: speaking of the devil, Keith Norris just posted this about autoregulation, good stuff!):

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on June 27, 2010
at 09:57 AM

Jae, subjective feelings of fatigue are indeed not always accurate, if you mean the are directly related to the 'real' fatigue of your organism. They are a product of the brain and the brain produces them for your (darwinian) best. But my point was that it is just this subjective feeling that drives the neuro-hormonal responses to a workout. This is very similar to pain mechanisms, which is scientifically wel understood. Fatigue research is not that well established, but is ongoing, especially in the face of the big problem of chronique fatigue.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 26, 2010
at 03:39 PM

Subjective feelings of fatigue or even pain are SOMETIMES accurate, sometimes not. Especially as we get older, it's important to be conservative in our assessment of how much we "should" be able to push through. In the old days, if I got injured, I would shrug it off. Now, it sets back my training by several weeks if not months, sometimes as long as a year! Just not worth it IMO.

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on June 25, 2010
at 07:51 PM

"Workout intensity is relative" - interesting idea and it makes a lot of sense. Right now it certainly *feels* like half a workout is just as taxing as a whole one used to be a month ago. I just wonder whether subjective feelings of fatigue or even pain (which are influenced by so many physical and psychological factors) are an accurate indicator of the actual demand/stress the body is being subjected to...

2
A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

on June 25, 2010
at 08:21 PM

I am pretty sure our ancestors were changing physical activity in relation to weather conditions. We have to listen to our bodies, and working out is about getting fit and healthy, so anything that might cause your health to deteriorate is not welcome. I am pretty sure that hunter-gatherers were spending a lot of time chilling in a shade trying to move as little as possible when it was the hottest. Unnecessary and possibly dangerous overuse of energy supplies.

We are better equipped to survive physical activity in a heat than other animals (bless the sweat!), and there are still hunters who run after an animal for hours in a heat till the animal gets a heat stroke. we can deal with it better... BUT the risk of heat stroke is real and you have to take it easy. Go shorter, lighter... maybe less high intense cardio movement and more slower strength workout. you may want to have a wet towel ready to put it cold on your head/neck to cool down a bit.

1
424563ee2575f0620ea221badabb40d7

(272)

on July 12, 2010
at 03:54 PM

Nutrition-wise? Creatine supplements can increase chances of heat stroke, so eating tons of beef, etc., might have a similar effect.

You do want to stop if feeling any nausea.

A fan by itself can work pretty good when you're sweating.

0
1c4ada15ca0635582c77dbd9b1317dbf

(2614)

on June 27, 2010
at 08:32 AM

Can you not alter your workout time to when it's cooler? Say early morning? Or do something inherently cooler, like swimming?

0
B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on June 25, 2010
at 05:53 PM

Make sure you're drinking enough water, I'd say. Don't eat so much directly before the work out. My work outs are usually only 20-30 minutes long, and it's been near 100F for the past two weeks here. My weights are in my garage, which has no air-conditioner or fan. I'm drenched within a minute or two, but I'm starting to enjoy the challenge and the extreme nature of it all. I'd say stick it out, unless you're working out for a long period of time, or you feel like you're going to pass out. Again, and obviously, make sure you're drinking enough water.

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