Summer is just around the corner, and it’s DEFINITELY starting to heat up outside! So if you’re like me and love to take your workouts outdoors, you may want to take a few extra precautions, especially as the weather continues to heat up.
Heat puts extra stress on your body and can lead to serious conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Exercising in the heat also increases your heart rate for the same workload that you could do at a lower heart rate in lower temperatures. This is because your body will divert blood flow away from your working muscles and to your skin in order to let off internal heat and cool your body. This causes your heart to beat faster at a given intensity. Exercising in the heat can be especially taxing when combined with humidity because humidity prevents sweat from evaporating — your body’s number 1 way of cooling itself.
So what can you do to beat the heat and prevent heat-related illness?
Here’s a few tips:
Get acclimated. If you’re not already used to exercising in the heat, you should get your body used to it before attempting any full length workouts. It takes about 9-14 days for internal adaptations in your body to take place. So the best thing to do is expose yourself to the heat regularly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of workouts in the heat.
Stay properly hydrated. That means drinking plenty of fluids not just after your workout, but before and during your workout. As a general guideline, you should drink around 20 ounces of water 2 hours before exercise, 8 ounces shortly before exercise, and a few gulps every 15-20 minutes during exercise. After exercise, you’ll want to replace any weight lost due to dehydration. While over-hydration is certainly a thing, it’s not likely to happen so err on the side of caution and drink that H2O!
Possibly have a sports drink. If you’re exercising for a prolonged period of time (e.g., 90 minutes), you’ll probably want to hydrate with a sports drink. If you’re not, then water should be sufficient. Not into sports drinks? That’s ok! I like to hydrate with a green juice.
Fuel your body. Your body is going to be working HARD in the heat, so proper fueling is essential. I like to have a fruit bar (like Thunderbird Bars) or a green juice 20-30 minutes before and after exercising outside.
Exercise during non-peak heat hours. Avoid exercising at the hottest part of the day and instead opt for morning or late evening outdoor workouts when the temperature is lower and the sun isn’t directly on you.
Protect your skin. Wear a visor or hat to keep the sun off your face as well as water- or sweat-resistant sunscreen on all exposed skin. Be sure to apply the sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going in the sun to give it time to absorb.
Lower the intensity. In order to stay in your target zone, you will need to lower the intensity of your workout since heat causes your hear rate to increase at a given workload. If you’re used to working at higher intensities, you could put some serious stress on your heart if you don’t slow it down.
Wear proper clothing. Lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat, like cotton, are best for exercise in the heat. Wearing light colors rather than dark colors can also help since light colors reflect the sun whereas dark ones absorb more heat. Wearing shorts rather than leggings to expose the working muscles will also help keep your body from overheating.
Stay in the shade. Choose a route with lots of shade so that you can avoid the direct sunlight as much as possible. This will help you stay cool and better protect your skin.
Consult your doctor. If you’re taking any medications, including over-the-counter medications like allergy medication, be sure to consult your doctor about any potential effects on your ability to tolerate heat as well as your ability to recognize when your body is getting overstressed. You should also consult your doctor if your having any negative symptoms, such as chest pain, after exercising in the heat regardless of whether or not your taking medication.
Do not exercise in temperatures above 96 degrees. And use extreme caution when exercising in temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees. Always take humidity into consideration. For example, if the air temperature is 88 degrees, but the relative humidity is 65%, then the heat index is 98 degrees. If in doubt, refer to the chart below.
If you just can’t beat the heat, take your workout indoors. If you’re not able to exercise at a lower temperature time, or if there is no time with a safe temperature, then the best thing is to workout indoors. I know it sucks, but your health and safety is way more important!
Any other tips?? Let me know in the comments!! Feel free to comment on, like, and share this article if you found it useful!