Ingo Froböse: Sports must be adapted from 30 degrees

Sports scientist Ingo Froböse: "You can jog even when it

Photos: Sebastian Bahr (left), CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Nate Johnston (right)

Can you go running in the heat? Who should avoid exercise when it’s over 30 degrees? And is a cold shower after exertion advisable – or counterproductive? In an interview with Utopia, sports and health expert Prof. Ingo Froböse reveals what you need to pay attention to when exercising on hot days – and why not exercising is not a good solution either.

Temperatures are climbing to over 30 degrees across Germany. This invites you to train outdoors – but should you even do sports on hot summer days? Sports scientist Prof. Ingo Froböse gave a clear recommendation in an interview last summer. The expert for prevention and rehabilitation in sports also has tips on what you should consider before, during and after training.

Utopia: Summer is here. Do you have to train differently than usual on hot days?

Ingo Froböse: You should definitely think about the time. Ideally, you should do your sport in the morning, because the hottest hours are usually between 3 and 6 p.m. That’s why afternoon sport is less suitable than morning sport on hot days.

Sport in summer: better very early or very late

Utopia: But what if you’re not an early riser?

Froböse: You can also train in the evening. However, you should finish exercising at least two hours before going to bed. If it’s really hot, you can also consider indoor exercise as an alternative.

Utopia: Are you thinking about a gym?

Froböse: Yes, because in the gym you can get on the treadmill or do muscle training.

Utopia: Nature attracts many people outside in the summer.

Froböse: Then bodies of water can help: If you have the opportunity, like we do here in Cologne with the Rhine, you should go running along rivers or lake shores. It is cooler there than in the city itself, for example.

Ingo Froböse: Beginners should be careful when temperatures reach 30 degrees

Utopia: At what temperature do I have to be careful when exercising?

Froböse: I would be more cautious when the temperature reaches 30 to 35 degrees, especially as a beginner. It is also important to adjust your pace on hot days and to take it a little easier when doing endurance sports. The most important thing in hot weather is to fill up your water tank before training.

Utopia: What does that mean exactly?

Froböse: Water is the most important filler for our body. You should drink at least one large glass of water before exercising. If you know you haven’t drunk much all day, you can drink more than one glass.

Utopia: Is there an upper limit here?

Froböse: Too much is no use either. The body cannot process more than 0.8 litres of water per hour and then excretes the water without absorbing the minerals it contains.

Utopia: Nevertheless, in summer, when you sweat more, your body also needs more water – right?

Froböse: Definitely. You should drink a lot in the morning, in the first four to six hours of the day. This will compensate for the deficit caused by sweating at night. In summer, you sweat out up to two liters per night.

Cotton is better for sports in hot weather than functional clothing

Utopia: Apart from fluids, what role does clothing play in summer sports?

Froböse: Clothing is important for cooling the body. The moisture that is created when you sweat should stay on the skin. It helps to cool the body.

Utopia: Functional clothing absorbs sweat. Is it the wrong choice in hot weather?

Froböse: Cotton can be better in summer. If you like, you can even try wet clothes.

Utopia: So you wet your t-shirt before jogging?

Froböse: A damp cotton shirt is pleasantly cool. But even more important is head protection. I like to run with a cap that I have previously soaked in water.

Utopia: Do you have any other clothing tips for sports in summer?

Froböse: The shoulders must be covered to protect the skin from the sun. Men often do this completely wrong and walk around with their upper bodies bare.

Utopia: Which sports do you advise against in hot weather?

Froböse: We shouldn’t be afraid of heat. When you exercise in hot weather, nothing different happens than in a sauna: we change our body temperature and increase it. But of course we should think about the intensity.

Utopia: So no HIIT training [Anm. der Red.: HIIT bedeutet High-Intensity Intervall Training] in the sun?

Froböse: That would be wrong. HIIT and similar intensive training sessions should be done in the morning or evening and should definitely be done in the shade.

Utopia: When is it too hot for sports?

Froböse: If I have physical problems such as cardiovascular problems or am pregnant, exercise is an additional burden when the temperature is above 30 degrees. People with health problems and those who are untrained should not start strenuous training when the temperature is above 35 degrees. Caution is also advised on humid days with high humidity.

Sport in the heat: Stop at 40 degrees

Utopia: Does that mean, conversely, that there is no ban on sport for people who exercise regularly and are healthy?

Froböse: Absolutely not. If you behave sensibly, there is no reason to avoid sport. You can go jogging even when it is 30 degrees. The exception is extreme heat, but that only starts at 40 degrees.

Utopia: Speaking of yoga: Are there any sports that are better suited to heat?

Froböse: There are no no-gos just because it’s hot. It all depends on the dose – you can dose any sport. If quieter sports like Pilates or yoga feel better in the shade, you can of course give preference to these on hot days.

Utopia: Which warning signals from my body should I listen to?

Froböse: The nice thing is that your body tells you when it’s too much. For example, there’s the white mouth-nose triangle. If the skin around your mouth and nose turns light, it means you’re at risk of overheating or overexertion. If this warning sign occurs, you should take a break. It’s best to find a partner to exercise with so you can look after each other.

Utopia: How do I react correctly if I have a headache or feel dizzy after exercise, not during exercise?

Froböse: Headaches and dizziness are often an indication of a lack of water and minerals. The best thing to do after exercise is to drink water by mixing a liter of water with half a teaspoon of salt.

Utopia: Can I prevent the symptoms by warming up differently in summer than in winter?

Froböse: Warming up is just as important in summer as it is in winter: start slowly and build up gradually. If it’s cold outside, your muscles may need longer to warm up.

No cold shower after training

Utopia: Do you recommend a refreshing ice-cold shower after a strenuous summer workout?

Froböse: A cold shower puts a lot of stress on the body. It is better to cool the body down slowly. Start with the calves and thighs, then shower the arms and only then the rest of the body. Lukewarm water is better than ice cold, otherwise the body will heat up again and you will start sweating again.

Utopia: Should I give my body a few days’ rest after a strenuous workout in hot weather?

Froböse: If I have adapted my training to the heat, my body does not need a longer recovery break than usual. And you can also learn to cope with heat. The more often I sweat, the better my body can adapt. Athletes sweat differently and better. They have more sweat glands and therefore sweat more effectively, i.e. more thinly. They sweat out more fluid, but fewer valuable minerals. That is why the sweat of trained people “smells” much less.

Froböse: “Athletes sweat better”

Utopia: So you can tell how fit you are by the smell of your sweat?

Froböse: The sweat of well-trained athletes smells almost neutral. It is perfectly acceptable to consciously expose yourself to heat and sweat.

Utopia: Do you have a recipe for success so that you don’t overexert yourself when exercising?

Froböse: You can tell very well from your own breathing whether your body is overtaxed, undertaxed or at exactly the right level. My recommendation for beginners is: breathe in once for every four steps and breathe out once for every four steps. That way you are always at the right pace. This works when walking, jogging and running.

Utopia: This not only helps those just starting out, but also experienced runners.

Froböse: Definitely. Breathing should be our control variable, not speed. This applies on cold, warm and hot days.

Note: If ozone pollution is increased, you should also pay attention to a few things – for the sake of your health.

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