A beautiful sunny day is the ultimate motivation to go outside and exercise. However, if you’re not careful, you can end up suffering from a heat-related health condition such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or extreme dehydration. Fortunately, I have five tips for exercising in the heat.
After exercising in cooler spring temperatures, hot and humid days can feel overwhelming. I’ve written before about workout motivation, but running, biking, hiking and even walking in the heat can completely derail your fitness goals. Before venturing out in the heat, I highly recommend you take these handy precautions to prevent heat-related illness…or worse.
If there’s a heat advisory, consider taking your workout indoors. Avoid the hottest part of the day and rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset later. If you decide to exercise in the heat of the midday (usually between 10 to 4 pm), choose shaded pathways or trails. Or, if you’re like me, just jump in a pool.
WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING
If you’re dressed in dark, tight-fitting clothes you might as well be wrapped in a blanket. Just remember to keep it lose and keep it light. The lighter color will help reflect the heat and cotton material will help the evaporation of sweat. If you’re willing to splurge a bit more, invest in sweat-wicking shirts and shorts to help pull moisture away from your skin.
DON’T FORGET SUNSCREEN
The American Cancer Society recommends you should choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and one that is water-proof so that it doesn’t come off while sweating. Another good way to decrease sun exposure is to wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Exercising in hot weather increases your body temperature. If the humidity is also way up, you’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin. It doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send your body temperature even higher. To keep cool, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your workout. If you’re planning on exercising more than 60 minutes, consider sipping sports drinks as they contain potassium and electrolytes that can re-hydrate and replenish your body.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Listen to your body. If the heat proves to be too much of a challenge, break it up into multiple smaller workouts throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic suggests that it takes one to two weeks for your body to adjust to warmer temperatures during exercise. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts. If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or tired, give yourself a break. Just remember that even a 20-minute workout has positive health effects.
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