10 Tips For Exercising In Summer Heat
It is summertime and many people are looking to get fit and stay healthy.
This means that you will be exercising outside more often, which can present some risks when it comes to your personal safety.
In this article, we will discuss 10 ways that you can stay safe when exercising outdoors so that you have a great time whilst doing so!
Please note: this article is for informational purposes only - should you require further information, please seek advice from a medical professional.
1. Dial your usual routine back
If you are travelling to hot and/or humid climates, ensure that you start off slowly by building up your body's tolerance to the heat.
As an example, if you are a regular runner, remember that running in hot weather is best done at dawn and dusk - the cooler hours of the day when temperatures are lower.
If you usually run, walk or jog during the summertime to keep in shape, be wise about your exercise as you get into hotter weather.
If you normally walk and later want to increase your pace a little bit, do it gradually so that your body can adapt properly as time goes on.
2. Aim for the cooler times of day
Rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or stay up late to be out when the day cools.
A runner should start at dawn and a walker may best go for an evening stroll, but those are best exercised earlier in the season because it can get dark on early summer nights.
It is best to avoid exercising outdoors during hot months between 11am-12pm and so best to avoid the hottest part of the day.
3. Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing.
What we usually find is that darker colours absorb the heat much more than lighter colors.
Thinner, synthetic fabrics are best, as they absorb less heat and tend to dry quickly.
It is best to wear light-colored clothing when exercising outdoors because darker colours like black or navy blue will make you hotter in comparison to other colors.
The best thing to do is plan for all eventualities and layer your clothing - that way, you can peel off any layers you need to.
4. Be sure to apply sunscreen
Apply sunscreen at least 4 times a day, even if the label promises sweat and water resistance for up to 8 hours .
You should also apply sunscreen to your neck and around the back of your ears, where you might not think about.
If you are running outside for long distances, then it is best to find a shady spot every now and then so that you do not overheat.
It can be difficult when there are many people in one area (i.e. a city) and it is best to find the most remote place possible so that you can stop for awhile.
5. Keep drinking (water, that is)
Working up a sweat can be an unpleasant affair, but it especially so when the outdoor temperatures are hitting record highs.
The best way to stay safe in extreme heat is to simply reduce your time outdoors.
To help your body cool down more quickly and efficiently, do not increase the length of your exercise routine or start working out at an intense level.
6. Keep a check on your hydration levels
One of the best ways to monitor how much water you should be drinking during any given day is by keeping an eye on the colour of your urine.
Medications and supplements CAN change the color of your pee over time, and so this is not an ideal gauge for monitoring hydration needs, however, it will give you a rough estimate.
The NHS recommends that adults should drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day, but the truth is: anything you consume counts.
Water, lower-fat milk, and sugar free drinks like coffee and tea all count towards this goal.
7. Be careful not to drink too much either
Overhydration, or drinking too much water, can lead to lowered blood sodium levels .
This can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, and headaches.
It is best not to drink any more than 13 glasses of water a day unless you are exercising heavily or in very hot weather.
8. Try to steer clear of sports drinks
Over the years, sports drinks have become much more popular, however, they are not always best for you.
These types of drinks tend to be high in sugar and it's therefore best to use them sparingly and only when exercising hard or you're spending time outside on a hot day.
Instead of reaching for the sports drink, grab some water first because hydration is infinitely more important than energy replenishment during your workout in hot/humid conditions.
9. Don't push yourself too hard
Staying fit and healthy for the summer is an excellent goal, however, making yourself ill trying to finish your four-mile workout could be considered dangerous.
Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you - any of the following should have you heading for the nearest cool spot:
- Weakness in your muscles.
- Light-headedness and/or headache.
- Uncontrollable nausea or vomiting.
Remember, by the time you realise you're thirsty, chances are you're already dehydrated.
Don't make the mistake of pushing yourself beyond what your body can actually handle in weather conditions it is not familiar with - by the time one/all of the above symptoms appear, you have already overdone it...
10. Familiarise yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Firstly, don't delay in seeking medical attention if you suspect this is what might be happening.
If heat stroke is not treated quickly, the body goes into shock and can have dire consequences.
Heat exhaustion will feel like a really bad hangover at best, or worse; feeling disoriented and confused with muscle cramps which will lead to vomiting.
Heat stroke is a much more serious threat that has been proven to be fatal. Symptoms include:
- - a high body temperature (over 40 degrees Celsius)
- - hot and dry skin, or red in the face
- - rapid pulse which can be strong enough to feel it through your wrist as you take their pulse
If you or someone around you displays these symptoms and don't improve after they have been cooled down with water - SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION!
This can happen very quickly and without warning, particularly amongst athletes training in hot/humid conditions, so keep your eyes peeled.
Following these tips will help you stay safe and healthy while exercising this summer.
Make sure to hydrate before, during, and after exercise. If it’s too hot for you outside, find an indoor gym or go swimming instead!
The key is to listen to your body and be flexible with the activities that make you feel good in a given day's weather conditions.
Remember that some/any physical activity is better than none at all - even if that means taking on some ice cream as a post-workout snack...
Be well and stay cool out there!