Warm Weather Exercise Tips

Exercising outside in the heat and humidity is not for the faint of heart, hot temps require some adaptations for the outdoor exerciser.

Clothing. Moisture wicking fabric and a loose fitting top that’s sleeveless for maximal ventilation is ideal. A hat and sunglasses when the sun is intense not only protects our faces from getting sunburned, but it also helps to shield us from the heat and glare. Speaking of sunburn, don’t forget the sweat resistant sunscreen!

Timing. Not all of us are morning exercisers, but whenever possible choose to avoid intense exercise in the heat of the day. This might mean moving our workout to mornings or evenings.

Hydration. Think before, during and after. Drinking water the night before and an hour before exercise will help you avoid dehydration. If your workout will be longer than 30 minutes, consider an electrolyte replacement drink. Replacing lost fluids and electrolytes will allow you to extend your time exercising and will enhance recovery. If you are looking for more information about hydration and nutrition, check out our latest edition of the Inside Edge.

Listen to your body. The heat often requires adjustments in the intensity & duration of a workout. Exercising in the heat places greater demands on the body. For example, I ran a road race last spring and the temps were 15-20 degrees higher than normal for that day. I realized early on the pace I had planned to run would not be sustainable. I knew if I stuck doggedly to my pace that I would crash at some point in the race. As disappointing as it was, I listened to my body and slowed my pace. When I saw fellow racers fall apart right and left, I realized that adjusting my pace to the conditions was the right choice.

Type of activity and location. Whenever possible, choosing a route with shade will be preferable to full sun. I will often switch to a trail run in the woods on days when a sunny route would be less ideal. Biking or yoga might be a better option than hiking or running in the heat.

Heat exhaustion or illness. It’s important to know the signs for when the heat is negatively impacting you. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heat exhaustion (the precursor to heat stroke) may include: cool, moist skin with goosebumps; heavy sweating; faintness; dizziness; fatigue; weak, rapid pulse; low blood pressure; and headache. This article goes on to say that if you experience signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, you should immediately stop activity, move to a cooler spot, and drink some cool water or sports drink. If symptoms worsen or don’t get better within an hour, seek medical attention.

The heat doesn’t have to put a stop to your outdoor exercise, but it will require you to listen to your body, be smart and be open to adapting your plans. Stay cool and stay smart!

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