The heat should not deter you from heading outdoors this summer. However, exercising in the heat puts extra stress on your body, so you must take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion. If you want the best experience outside this summer, here are seven tips for exercising in the heat.
What is Exercise-Related Heat Exhaustion
Exercising in the heat increases your risk of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body cannot cool down fast enough, and your body temperature rises above normal. When the humidity is high, it’s hard for your body to cool down through sweat, so it is essential to pay attention to symptoms before exhaustion escalates to something more serious.
Three groups of people are more likely to suffer from exercise-related heat exhaustion. Women, people with less melanated skin, and those who grew up in a cooler climate are more likely to suffer heat-related illnesses. If you want to avoid the risk, follow these tips for exercising in the heat safely.
If you don’t already live in an area where you’re used to hot temperatures, it’s recommended to acclimatize to exercising in the heat. It can take 1-2 weeks to adapt to higher temperatures. Here are some suggestions for acclimatization for each session.
- Gradually increase heat exposure.
- Gradually increase your time outside.
- Gradually increase your exercise intensity.
Drink Enough Fluid
Hydration is important for exercise performance in general, but it’s critical when exercising in the heat. Your body sweats to help cool the body during exercise, and in hot temperatures, the amount increases. Good hydration while exercising in the heat is essential. Avoid dehydrating liquids like caffeine or soda, and incorporate a sports drink for long-duration workouts. Finally, the water or sports drink should be chilled but not too cold because it may cause cramps.
According to the NCAA, here is the hydration timing recommended for exercising in the heat.
Before Exercise: 16 hours before one bottle of water, and 8 ounces 15 minutes before
During Exercise: 4 ounces every 15-20 minutes or 2-3 gulps
After Exercise: 16-20 ounces of water for every pound lost during activity
Before you exercise, if possible, check the heat a day before. If the humidity is high, avoid exercising outside that day, especially if your body is not acclimatized to the heat. The best time to exercise in the heat is the morning or evening hours when the humidity and temperature are low. Avoid the peak daytime temperatures if possible.
Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing while exercising in the heat. Look for clothing made of natural fibers like cotton, silk, or linen, and avoid synthetic clothing. Synthetic clothing poorly absorbs sweat limiting the body’s ability to breathe. Many companies make adaptable clothing with breathable vents and flowing materials.
Sunscreen is a must when exercising in the heat because sunburn limits your body’s ability to stay cool. Regardless of your complexion, everyone needs sunscreen to protect them from harmful rays and rising body temperatures. In addition, UV-blocking sunglasses and hats keep you cool outside.
Because high temperatures put more stress on the body, your response to exercise will be amplified in the heat. If you are out of shape or new to exercise, take more breaks than usual. If possible, avoid the open sunlight and move to a more shaded area to lessen the effects of exercising in the heat.
Listen to Your Body
Overall, listening to your body while exercising outside in the heat is important. Even the most experienced person can suffer from heat exhaustion. By properly fueling yourself and taking the necessary precautions, you should prevent heat-related illness while exercising outdoors this summer.