Exercising effectively in different climates

Written by Sophie

Living in tropical climates meant I had to take new factors into account in order to try and stay fit!  I have also had to adjust to coming back to the UK as although the sun is shining, the lack of heat has had an impact on the doing the kind of workouts I am used to doing.

Based on my own experiences and adjustments I made, here are my tips on dealing with different climates when exercising, hopefully you will find useful if you live abroad or just want to workout on holiday!

Cold weather

  • Make sure you stretch – This is the most important one.  In colder climates, it is easy to forget that your muscles and joints take longer to warm up and if they’re not warmed up and you go straight into intense exercise you can pull muscles and put more pressure on your joints. (I forgot and learnt the hard way!)
  • Wrap up!! Make sure your vital organs aren’t exposed to chilly temperatures.  Also, I get really cold ears and a sore throat if I don’t wrap up so tend to wear ear muffs and a scarf if it is really cold or even if there is a bit of wind.  In terms of clothing, if you think you’ll get too hot then layer up and remove layers as you go.  I often wear something long-sleeved over other layers so that I can remove this and tie it around my waist so I don’t have to carry it.
  • Hydrate before you go.  It can be painful to drink water when you’re on the run, as well as making your hands cold.  Plus it’s important you try to stay dry so that there isn’t any danger of you getting a chill.
  • Proper shoes – make sure your shoes have decent grip – you don’t want to slip over if it’s wet or icy!

Hot weather

  • Go early – you wouldn’t believe the difference you feel when the sun is up in that sky.
  • Hydrate – make sure you drink lots before you go and take water with you.  In really humid climates it’s important to also make sure you replace the electrolytes you lose through sweating with isotonic drinks such as coconut water.
  • Suncream – it’s easy to forget to put your daily SPF on before you go out and exercise because you’ll come back and do that once you’ve finished working out.  But when you are exercising and sweating you will be attracting more of the sun’s rays and therefore need to invest in a decent sports suncream at a high factor.  It really is worth it, plus you won’t have dodgy tan lines.
  • Clothing – lightweight is the obvious choice for hot weather.  It is also important to think about the material you’re wearing, e.g. avoid cotton because it really does hold on to sweat and isn’t very comfortable. It is worth investing in tops from places like Nike with their Dry Fit material as it makes a big difference to your comfort levels (and motivation to get out there and exercise).
  • Try to acclimatise to the heat before you start exercising – i.e. don’t go straight from a cold air-conditioned flat straight out into a hot run.  Maybe do a small warm up before you go out so that your body has time to adjust and doesn’t end up overheating.