3 Tips for Exercising in the Heat

By: Armando Arellano II, M. Ed.

It’s getting hot in here (so hot) so take off….I’ll just leave that there

But anyways, are you someone who lives for the summer and cannot seem to spend enough time outdoors? Or maybe you’re like me and live in Ohio where nice weather is limited so you want to take advantage of the great weather as much as possible! If you don’t mind sweating a bit and staying hydrated, then maybe it is time to bring your workout outdoors! There are many great activities that can be done outdoors that involves physical activity, but we will be discussing how you can enjoy your physical activities safely in the heat!

Beat the heat!

Before you head outside, there are some measures you need to take before exercising outside so you can beat the heat.

#1 Stay Hydrated: It is essential that you are adequately hydrated prior to AND during your hot weather exercise. Because your sweat is mainly comprised of water, it is important to make sure you drink enough water prior to the start of your workout, during your workout, and at the end of your workout to help replenish your water stores. The American Council of Exercise (ACE) recommends the following water intake for pre, during, and post exercise in the heat:

Pre-workout

  • Drink 17 to 20 fl oz of water two to three hours before exercise
  • Drink 8 fl oz of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before exercise

During workout

  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise

Post-workout

  • Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid 30 minutes after exercise
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise

We all know the importance of replacing the water we lose after exercising, but we also need to consider replenishing the electrolytes we lose as well! Excessive sweating during exercise in the heat can lead to loss of electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential minerals in your body that are important for daily bodily functions such as nerve and muscle function, fluid balance, balance blood pH levels, and moving nutrients into the cells to name a few. It is recommended to replenish your electrolytes within 30 minutes of completing exercise. Some electrolyte rich sources include: Gatorade, Powerade, Coconut Water, Pedialyte, Pretzels, Nuts, Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Pickles, and Whole Grains just to name a few!

#2 Proper Attire: When it comes to working out in the heat, proper attire should be at the top of the list with staying hydrated! Protecting yourself from the elements and preparing for the heat will help decrease the likelihood of heat related illness! Exercising in the heat will cause your body to work harder because it is expending energy not only for exercise but also in regulating your body temperature (thermoregulation)! Let’s take a look in how to effectively dress to maximize the efficiency thermoregulation!

  • When deciding on the attire to wear for an outdoor workout in the heat, make sure you wear lightweight and well ventilated clothing. Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and lycra absorb sweat more efficiently, wick moisture, and allow for evaporation.
  • Avoid wearing darker colors when exercising outside in the heat, especially if there is direct sunlight. Consider wearing light colors such as white which help reflect heat better than other colors.
  • Consider wearing a hat to help keep your head cool, and the sun out of your eyes. Soaking the hat in cool water can help increase you comfort level especially on a hot and sunny day!
  • Protect your skin! No one enjoys sunburn, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen when you plan on spending extended periods of time in the sun! it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Ensure you are reapplying the sunscreen at least every 2 hours or after sweating. Sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer. So stay ahead of the game and take care of your skin!

#3 Know the warning signs of Heat related illness: No workout is worth risking your health over, so understanding your limits and knowing the warning signs of heat related illness can help decrease the risk of heat related illnesses. When you exercise in hot weather, you put extra stress on your body because the heat and humidity can increase your core body temperature. In order to cool itself off, you body sends more blood to circulate through to your skin. With more blood circulating outward toward your skin, this leaves less blood for your muscles, which will also increase your heart rate. Under normal conditions your body will adjust blood vessels, perspiration, and body temperature to the heat. But your natural cooling systems may fail if you are exposed to high temperatures and humidity for extended periods of time, especially if you sweat excessively or if you are not adequately hydrated. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing heat-related illness:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Impaired vision

If you develop any of these symptoms (not limited to the list above), cease exercise immediately, lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. If possible, contact someone to help monitor your conditions.

Now that we have gone over what to do to ensure you stay cool, hydrated, and safe in the heat, you can now exercise with confidence by applying all the above! Stay hydrated, dress appropriately, and be smart and safe! Burn those calories and enjoy the sun!