UAE residents beat the heat by exercising in the morning

With many residents starting their exercise programmes as early as 6am, when temperatures can be a relatively low 30°C, the heat is no excuse to refrain from keeping fit, they say.

Dr Tamara Ghazi runs and cycles six times a week and usually ends her workouts by 8.30am. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // From yoga to more strenuous activities such as cycling and sprinting – it is still possible to exercise outdoors in the summer.

With many residents starting their exercise programmes as early as 6am, when the temperature can be a relatively low 30°C, the heat is no excuse to refrain from keeping fit, they say.

“My training doesn’t change all year round, but I run less in summer because I don’t enjoy being outdoors as much,” said Dr Tamara Ghazi, the medical director at Diversified Integrated Sports Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City.

“You just have to be smart about protecting your head from the sun, and make sure to hydrate throughout and after your workout.

“If you have any headaches or blurred vision, then stop. And I wouldn’t recommend it to people fasting in Ramadan.”

Dr Ghazi, a 29-year-old Canadian-Arab who goes running and, on occasion, cycling early in the morning six times a week, said the sun was not as strong at that time.

“It’s a really nice time of the day. I swim in the sea once every two weeks at 6.30am and the water is very cool. It also refreshes you, so it keeps your focus at work when you feel sluggish from the heat. It’s definitely tolerable.”

Her workouts usually end by 8.30am. “It actually feels great because the sun isn’t that bright and humidity isn’t that high,” she said. “You get used to it. You have to take lots of water, coconut water and electrolytes.

“Heat training is also really good because the race becomes easier, and the humidity is like training in altitude, so it works really well.”

Dima Godfrey, a 35-year-old regional sales manager who lives in Dubai, includes kick-boxing, circuit training, running, swimming and cycling in his workout. In summer, he does athletics on an outdoor track twice a week, coupled with several short runs.

“I go very early in the morning, about 6am, and cycling at 5am,” said Mr Godfrey, who is from the UK. “There are a few of us that go so it’s easy to motivate each other.”

In this weather, it made sense to exercise in the morning, he said. “That’s the whole idea of going out before the sun comes out. Lately, it’s been just under 35°C at that time and it’s bearable with the right hydration, but it’s still tough.”

Training in the morning, Mr Godfrey said, was something he started doing at a young age. “I grew up in the UK, where the temperature is a lot cooler and I got in the habit of training in the morning before going to work. I just carried on doing it when I got here, and I prefer it because of the convenience, in terms of time, and there’s something about training in the morning that enables me to make good food choices the rest of the day.”

People must be aware, however, that with outdoor training comes the need for constant hydration.

“People have to be sensible,” Mr Godfrey said. “Every person is different so if they feel faint or dizzy, they should pace themselves and take regular breaks. But don’t underestimate the sun. It can get really gruesome if you’re not prepared for it.”

Megan Mileham is used to the summer heat, having lived in Dubai for the past 20 years. Every week, three of her daily workouts are completed outside.

“If I train outside, I do stuff in the morning at about 6am or 7am,” the callisthenics trainer said. “I like to do body weights early, so I work also on a lot of strength yoga, which is a workout in itself. I like to work up a sweat and get some fresh air.”

The feeling of working out as early as possible was rewarding, the South African said.

“The fresh air is good and the humidity is quite nice on your skin. It adds to it because you get sweatier quicker and you burn more calories than when inside.

“As long as you listen to your body and stay hydrated, it can’t hurt. So as long as you’re comfortable, just keep going.”