Tips to Beat the Heat and Exercise!

by Megan Abdelnour
Tips to Beat the Heat and Exercise!
Image by Dave Rosenblum Image by Dave Rosenblum
For those of us who love to exercise outdoors, the dreadful heat waves of summer can cause issues with figuring out how to get our workouts while safe in the hot weather. It can be easy for your body temperature to get too high and suffer from heat-related issues like cramping, dehydration, and in severe cases, dizziness and fatigue. So, what’s a girl to do when it’s hot outside but you don’t want to lose momentum in your workouts? There are plenty of ways you can keep exercising outside safely and effectively. Now, if the weather’s just too hot where it could become dangerous, head inside where it’s cooler. Either way, these tips will help you stay safe whether you exercise inside or outside!

1. Stay Hydrated

This may be the most basic but it’s certainly the most important part of keeping up with your summer workouts: stay hydrated! You can lose as much as 3% of your body weight due to dehydration during endurance activities such as running or cycling––especially when the sun is strong and you’re sweating like crazy. But that sweat is helping your body from overheating, so hydrating your body can help increase sweat, which releases heat. Be sure to drink enough water for your body. The //" target="_blank">number of ounces of fluid you should be getting daily can be determined by dividing your body weight in half (e.g. 160 pound person should get 80 oz of water daily). During your outdoor workout, aim to drink about 4-6 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Try to sip on water rather than drink it quickly, and try to make that room temperature water, if possible.

2. Dress Appropriately

Cotton is great to wear for work or PJs but not so great for working out on a summer day. Light-colored clothing made out of synthetic, moisture-wicking fabrics are more airy and breathable so you’ll want to go with these instead. They wick moisture from your skin to help evaporate sweat and help you cool your body down more effectively, which cotton can’t do. You should also cover up your head with a lightweight hat that provides air flow or a visor to keep sweat out of your eyes, and protect your face from the sun.

3. Pick the Right Location

Where you workout is practical yet important. If you choose to workout in the middle of a park with no trees around, you’ll get hot faster, your performance will suffer, and you’ll be at a higher risk for heatstroke. This is why you’ll want to work out in shady locations––parks with trees and/or shade from nearby buildings. These locations can feel up to 20 degrees cooler than being directly in the sun. You can head over to the lake, too, for the cooling breezes.

4. Pick a Cool Time

Along with picking the right location, you’ll want to pick the right time to exercise. During the hot summer months, change up your schedule so you can be outside early morning or late evening hours when it’s cooler. If you’re running, contrary to what we usually try to do, run out with a tailwind and with a headwind on your way back. This way, you’ll have the breeze to cool you on the end of your run. And take your time. Take as many breaks as you need; it’s ok if you feel you may need to take more breaks than usual. Pop into a building to cool off in the air conditioning if you need to.

5. Try a Different Exercise

We may have our preferred exercise activities, but in times like these, we should try to be more flexible and try new workouts instead of putting our bodies at risk when it’s too hot outside. Take this time to try something new. Grab a membership at the community pool or go to a nearby lake and swim instead of running. Do some resistance exercises in the pool, or practice surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking. If you don’t have water around, you could try some body resistance strength training in a shady spot, shorten your run and/or run slower, or do beach volleyball where you can take breaks in the ocean to cool off. Also, why not try out something completely new? Head indoors to the skating rink for ice hockey or skating! All of these will get your heart pumping, muscles working, and your body safe.

6. Head Indoors

Sometimes, it’s just not safe to be outdoors. //" target="_blank">When temperatures are above 94 degrees it is recommended you keep yourself inside for your safety. Lift weights at the gym, run on the treadmill, or take that barre, indoor boxing, or HIIT class in the air-conditioning. If your home has the space, consider getting a good workout video and some basic equipment in your home (e.g. weights, resistance bands, yoga mat) so you can keep your workout at home. It may not be ideal, but you have to respect what’s safe and what isn’t. If your access to A/C is limited but it’s still a safe temperature, embrace the heat and do some yoga or stretch routines, both of which are actually more beneficial to your body when your muscle temperature is high.

Bonus Tips

  • Wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors, at least SPF 30
  • When running outside, choose dirt or gravel paths instead of a blacktop
  • Use body glide to prevent chafing, especially on your underarms and between thighs and toes which are all areas prone to chafing and skin irritation
  • Listen to your body. Lower your intensity level if needed. Run a little slower and take more rest breaks
Would you add any other tips to my list of how to exercise during the hot summer months? Tell me in the comments below!