Tips for Exercising in Hot Weather
Summer has arrived. Not officially until next week, but the temperatures the past few days have definitely felt summer-like.
And even though it’s nice to go to the gym and not have to wear a coat or multiple layers, add to the fact that our studios are air conditioned, exercising in hot weather brings its own set of challenges and stresses on the body.
Exercise, combined with warmer air temperature, increases your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin, leaving less blood for muscles, and increasing your heart rate. If humidity is high, more stress is placed on the body because sweat doesn’t evaporate from your skin, and this pushes your body temperature even higher.
According to Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), "It usually takes 10 to 14 days of heat exposure combined with exercise to reduce an individual's risk for heat injury." How will you know your body has adapted? You'll sweat more and sooner, but you'll be losing fewer electrolytes. Properly allowing your body to adjust ultimately leads to a lower body core temperature, a decreased heart rate response to exercise, and a diminished potential for dehydration and electrolyte depletion. See below for some tips on exercising successfully in warmer temperatures.
- Dress appropriately. Light-colored, sweat-wicking clothing is best for hot weather. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
- Hydrate. Drink enough fluids throughout the day to keep you hydrated. Most experts recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. When exercising, especially in hot weather, more is needed.
- For any exercise lasting less than 30 minutes at moderate intensity, water is the best thing to help maintain hydration.
- Longer periods of exercise, higher temperatures, and greater intensity, may call for something more than water to replenish your body. An electrolyte drink with low sugar content, coconut water, or even making your own sports drink by mixing lemon or lime juice with water along with a pinch of unprocessed,natural salt, such as pink Himalayan salt are all good options.
- Time your exercise to avoid peak heat. Sun, humidity, and pollution levels are most intense between 10:00am and 2:00pm, so plan your workouts, golf, or tennis matches accordingly.
If you do get over-heated, try these tips to cool your body:
- Run cold water over your forearms to help reduce body temperature.
- Use a spray bottle to spray cool water on your skin while fanning air on it. As the water evaporates, body temperature will drop.
- Apply an icepack or cooling neck wrap to your neck, forearms, groin, and/or armpits.
SHAPE Magazine: 10 Must-Know Tips for Exercising in Hot Weather by Jessica Smith