5 tips for exercising in the heat

Exercising in the heat

The warm, sunny days of summer are here inviting us to step outside. However, venture out in a 90-degree heat stretch, and it often doesn’t take more than a few steps for our workout-motivation to hit a roadblock. Sweat-drenched and out of breath, the great outdoors can begin to feel not entirely too great when those hot waves start rolling in.

Why does it feel harder to workout in the heat? In summertime temps, your heart must do double duty to keep you up and running (biking, hiking, or even walking). It not only must pump blood to your working muscles but also sends blood to your skin so your body can release internal heat into the environment to help cool itself down. The latter process signals your body to sweat, and as those drops begin to evaporate into the air, will help you feel cooler. However, all of that sweating speeds up your heart rate. It rises three to five beats per minute for every 1% of water loss you experience, making you feel like you’re working out harder than you really are. Profuse sweating also increases your risk for dehydration and heat-related illnesses.

However, if you’re mindful, you needn’t let sizzling temps fizzle out your outdoor workout routines. There are tons of science-backed benefits of exercising outdoors, including everything from increasing energy levels to improving mood to reducing stress, which means you may not want to run inside just yet.

Use the tips below to keep those heat waves from crashing your summer exercise routine.


Morning workoutMove it in the morning: 
Timing is everything when it comes to summer outdoor workouts. The rule of thumb is that when the heat index hits 90, you’re better off moving it indoors. Easily avoid running into searing temperatures by starting out early. Evenings after the sun goes down can be a conducive exercise time too, however, research has shown that cool morning air boosts your endurance more so than working out at night.

Water on head to cool downDouble shower: Research indicates that a cold shower, bath or even ice pack applied to strategic places (such as the back of your neck) before a workout will not only cool your skin, but also reduce your core body temperature. One study showed that after exiting cold water, men initially had a lower heart rate while exercising when compared to those whose muscles hadn’t been treated to a cold-water bath. This can help to extend the amount of time in your workout before your body risks overheating. While exercising, consider carrying a cool water bottle with you and squirting it over your head as needed, and if you have long hair, wet it and pop it into a bun before you head out.

runLook the part: Lightweight, breathable clothing will help you make it to the end of that extra mile. Look for fabrics marked with wicking abilities, like like CoolMax, Capilene or Dri-FIT, which will pull away moisture from your body to keep you cooler. Keep it sleeveless if possible, and avoid dark colors like blacks and navies, which absorb light that generates heat. Runner’s World has some ideas to outfit you from head-to-toe.

Stay hydratedHydrate, hydrate, hydrate: If you become dehydrated, your internal reservoir runs out. When no sweat remains, your body can’t cool itself down, and this is when problems arise. Experts recommend  drinking 20 oz. of water two hours prior to exercise, at least 8 oz. shortly before heading out, and another 4 oz. every 15-20 minutes during exercise. To make sipping down extra H20 feel easy, try adding a few mint leaves or cucumber slices to freshen up your bottle. Make sure to hydrate post-workout, too, and notice if you have white streaks on your skin or clothes. This means you’re a salty sweater, so spiking your water with an electrolyte tablet could be a good idea to help you take back in some of the sodium you lost.

Listen to yourselfBe a listener: Let your body be your guide. Symptoms such as dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea and headaches indicate you likely need to rehydrate, and could benefit by taking a break to cool off in the shade or indoors. If you’re unsure whether or not you should be drinking more liquids, take a quick peak at your toilet bowl. Your pee should reflect the color of lemonade, and any darker may mean you’re dehydrated. Alternatively, if you come back from a summer workout 1 to 2 pounds lighter, be mindful to increase your hydration efforts next time. You lose 2 1/2 cups of water per pound of body weight. If heat exhaustion symptoms do arise, seek ice water to cool the body down quickly, and in the case of incoherence, call a paramedic.

When the sun’s shining, why spend time surrounded by fluorescent lighting? As long as you don’t have any pre-existing conditions, you stay out of the danger zone (heat indexes of 90 or above) and stay hydrated, experts assure you’ll be fine to soak up those rays and sweat it out in the great outdoors. Come join us in your sneakers – we’ll see you out there!

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