Stay safe and stay cool
Most of us can’t wait until it’s warm enough to take our workouts outside, but exercising in the heat after a long winter can be tough on the body. When temperatures rise and the humidity soars, we run the risk of:
- Dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, dizziness and muscle cramps
- Fainting – If you’re not used to exercising in the heat, you might pass out from a drop in blood pressure
- Heat exhaustion or heat stroke
- Heat rash
You may be excited to get out, but your body needs time to adapt to exercising in hot and humid environment. Use these tips for exercising in the heat.
The most important part of exercising safely in the heat is to stay hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, you not only risk fatigue and poor performance, you also risk more serious problems like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.General Guidelines
- Drink about 2 glasses of water 2 hours before your workout.
- Sip water throughout your workout, about 8 ounces every 15 minutes. Carry a hydration pack for convenience
- Consider a sports drink if you’re exercising for more than an hour or you’re working out in extreme heat.
- Continue to drink water after your workout to replace any fluids lost.
- If you’re exercising for a long period of time, weigh yourself before and after your workout and drink 2 cups of water for every pound of fluid you’ve lost.
What you wear when you exercise in the heat can make or break your workout, especially if you’re out for a long walk, run or bike ride. The keys to staying comfortable, cool and safe include wearing:
- Lightweight, comfortable clothes – Check for any seams, tags or other things that could lead to chafing or a rash
- Sweat wicking fabrics – Cotton absorbs sweat, making clothes heavy and uncomfortable. Breathable fabrics help sweat evaporate, keeping you cooler and drier
- Clothes that are light in color – Light colors reflect some of the sun’s energy away from you, keeping you cooler
- A hat to protect your head and shield your eyes and face from the sun
Don’t forget to choose performance socks as well to keep your feet cool and dry.
What we sometimes forget in our first summer workout is that exercising in the heat is harder on the body than exercising indoors. You may find that your heart rate is much higher during hot weather as your body sends more blood to the skin to cool you off. For that reason, it won’t take long to get to a high intensity, which may leave you drained and exhausted.
Give your body time to adapt to the heat by:
- Starting slow – Allow for extra warm up time to get a feel for the heat and adjust your intensity
- Shortening your workouts – It’s better to leave your workout with extra energy than to spend days recovering from heat exhaustion
- Listening to your body – if you feel dizzy or faint, stop, get into a cool environment and drink fluids
Midday is the hottest time of the day for exercise, which puts you at risk for dehydration, heat illnesses and just plain bad workouts. Consider working out in the morning before things heat up. There are other great reasons to exercise in the morning:
- It’s easier to stick to your exercise program
- You get your workout in before the day gets out of control
- You’ll have more energy for the rest of the day
- You get your metabolism going, which can help with weight loss
You can also consider splitting your workouts, doing part of it in the morning and part of it at night when the weather is cooler. You get the same benefits as continuous workouts and another way to beat the heat.
Most of us wear sunscreen when we’re at the beach or pool, but how many of us head out for a run and remember the sunscreen?
When you prepare for your workout, put your sunscreen nearby so you don’t forget it and put it on at least 30 minutes before your workout. Look for sunscreens that:
- Offer protection of at least SPF 15
- Provide protection from UVA rays
- Are sweat and/or water-resistant
Learn more about the best sunscreens for exercise.
Don’t forget, a good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from UV rays and make it easier to see where you’re going. Look for Lightweight, durable frames and a comfortable, no-slip fit.