Sports during the approaching heat wave: Smart or not?
This week, the Netherlands will have to deal with a heat wave that will have a major impact on public life; the mercury will exceed 30 degrees by far. At those temperatures, is it actually still responsible to play sports? And what precautions should you take?
No, sports at high temperatures is certainly not impossible, says Professor of Physiology Maria Hopman of opleiding personal coach
"In countries where it's generally hotter than normal sports," she sketches. "But it's mainly a question of how used your body is to it or can get used to it."
Anyone who is training or running around or cycling while the temperature is slowly rising, there is nothing wrong. "Your body is a very clever factory that adapts very skilfully to the heat under such conditions," says Hopman.
"Take it easy with this heat
If you are normally used to exercising at temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees and one or two very hot days suddenly occur - as is the case at the end of this week - then Hopman advises against making very intensive efforts.
"The question is, what is the use of sports training at such a time? I would say: take it easy, sit in the shade with your feet in a bowl of cold water. And don't forget to drink a lot, even if you don't exercise."
An internationally used standard in this context is the so-called Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). This measure expresses the combination of temperature, humidity and solar radiation.
This WBGT is used to 'measure' whether people who work outside can work a whole day. Furthermore, sports federations use the WBGT to determine whether competitions can take place. "It will certainly be above the limit on Thursday," predicts Hopman.
What do the different weather codes mean?
Drink enough, adjust training intensity
Personal coach Tim van Zelst from The Hague is more optimistic. "You can also go to the gym on Thursday," he explains. "But make sure you take the right precautions. Work out in the shade and drink enough water, generally twice as much as normal. Your body needs water to cool down."
It's also wise to adapt the sports activities to the high temperatures, Van Zelst insists. "Don't opt for a high intensity workout with a hundred burpees and heavy rounds on the airbike. But opt for quiet cardio, so that your heart rate remains low. And think a little longer about your clothing - so no long pants or leggings, but light, ventilating clothing. Or wet your T-shirt for extra cooling."
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Airy clothing helps your body cool down
Movement scientist Erik van den Haak at vitality company Lifeguard completed the Ironman, an hour-long triathlon at high temperatures. "Of course you can do sports," he says. "But do it when it's hotter than 30 degrees, especially if your body isn't used to it. And that's true for the majority of the Dutch. You don't perform as well anyway; the question is whether a really effective workout is possible in a heat wave.
Van den Haak advises people who still want to go to the gym to train quietly. "Go do some cardio: take a walk or go cycling, then your body cools down by the wind". He also advises smart planning on days when the mercury goes into the red. "I myself like to train early in the morning, when the temperatures are still good to do. Or look for a good air-conditioned gym."
Van den Haak also urges fanatical athletes to drink enough on Thursdays. "Not only during training, but also before and after. You lose an average of 1 litre of moisture per hour during sports sessions at these temperatures". By the way, a sports drink with sodium in it is, especially under these conditions, better than ordinary water. "Sodium helps the body absorb the water better, so that water that is sweating out is replenished better and faster.
Exercising children deserve extra attention over the next few days
KNVB-doctor Edwin Goedhart also points out that it is even more difficult for sporting children to adapt to the warm weather. "Problems can be prevented by, for example, taking extra breaks for drinking, or by shortening playing time in the case of matches".
Just like personal coach Van Zelst, Goedhart also stresses how important it is to pay extra attention to the right clothing. "Don't wear fabric that doesn't breathe well; it sticks to your skin and traps sweat and warm air. That is exactly what you want to prevent." And white clothing is definitely preferable. "White reflects heat from the environment. Black absorbs the heat, which means you can still follow remotiontraining.be