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☀️EXERCISING IN THE HEAT OF THE TOP END☀️ It’s getting hot out here!

The build-up is here, and many of us want (or need) to continue to exercise outdoors in the heat/humidity.

 

But… 

Is training in the heat ok for our bodies? 

What are the risks? 

Can exercising in the heat negatively impact our performance?

Or can we use the Top End climate to enhance our performance?

 

Exercising in temperatures 32°C+ (Darwin – build-up / wet season)

Welcome to Darwin!! 

If you’re new to the Top End, go for a run along the Nightcliff foreshore or East Point, you’ll soon find out (and it’s no surprise) that the hotter it is, the harder it is.

When air temperature exceeds 26°C and the humidity exceeds 70 per cent, performance drops markedly! Training your body to safely perform under these conditions requires time and preparation.

 

The science:

Physiologically, exercising in heat/humidity produces a cascade of reactions.

 

  • Increased blood flow to the skin to promote sweating → Reduction in blood plasma/volume + electrolytes → Increase in blood viscosity

  • Less blood available for working muscle and vital organs → Less blood flow to the heart → Reduced cardiac filling and stroke volume (the amount of blood that is pumped from the heart)

  • Increased heart rate → Less oxygen to working muscle → Switch to anaerobic mode of exercise (without oxygen)

  • Decreased VO2 max, (the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can take in and use to fuel working muscles) → Reduction in efficency

  • Increase in energy expenditure and blood lactate accumulation → Quicker onset of fatigue.

  • +

  • Humidity hinders cooling. The more humid it is the harder it becomes to evaporate sweat →  we don’t cool as well. 

 

The key to exercising in the Top End is:

 

  • Hydration++

  • Acclimatisation 

  • Graded progression

  • Recovery

 

Hydration: Athletes will experience greater water loss whilst exercising in heat, so drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercise session.

*Ensure your urine is clear before you start your session.

Acclimatisation: The key to training in the heat is to start low and allow the body time to adapt to the conditions. Build volume and intensity gradually.

Some other tips on exercising in the Top End:

  • Train in the morning or late afternoon/evening 

  • Wear light, technical fabrics that wick sweat and allow the skin to breathe.

  • Wear sports specific sunscreen.

  • If exercising outside, find a location or course that is mainly in the shade, and slow your pace to adjust to the heat and humidity.

  • Plan ahead - Have extra water on hand, some small wet towels to place on the back of your neck and know where you can get out of the heat/sun and into a cooler environment, such as a pool.

 

Heat stress: Core temperature is likely to increase more than normal while training in the heat. It’s very important to monitor for signs of heat stress - light headedness, nausea, or a sudden increase in heart rate.

**If you experience these symptoms, stop and cool down immediately.

 

Recovery: Recovering after a session in the heat takes on additional importance. Here’s some tips to help recover well after a training session, race or game in the Top End:

 

  • Get fluids in (as soon as possible) – water is best!

  • Get extra sleep (7-9+ hours)

  • Choose a ‘cool’ active recovery (pool)

  • Refuel with the right food and fluids (smoothies, protein shakes and/or ice slurries)

 

Stay cool out there!!

 

 


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