Hit the Street or Hide from the Heat?

Melanie Rovinsky

Everything you need to know about summertime exercising

As August slowly fades out of existence and the long summer days begin to grow shorter, many of us will start to take solace in the fact that we can begin to exercise outside without melting in the sun. But let’s face it; the humid days and harmful rays have not deserted us quite yet, and squeezing in a run or bike ride seems more like a punishment than a smart fitness choice. Although exercise is vital to a healthy lifestyle, working out in the heat requires a few extra safety precautions.

Beat the Heat
When it comes to exercising in the summertime, it’s important to remember just how dangerous the heat can be. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hundreds of people die each year in the U.S. due to the heat. Throw intensive cardio activity into the mix, and heat becomes even more of a threat.

If you can’t safely compete with the heat, you can do your best to avoid it. Rather than skip your outdoor workouts altogether, try exercising in the early morning or late evening when the sun is not blazing. However, if humidity is the culprit, losing the sun won’t make much of a difference. Instead, head to the gym or swim laps in a pool. Of course, taking a day or two off from your normal workout routine is never a bad thing; periodically taking days off allows your body to rest and your muscles to repair themselves.

Sweat More, Drink More
Shape magazine says that an individual in a warm climate (you know, the one you are attempting to sprint repeat miles in) can sweat up to three liters per hour! That’s a lot of sweat! And because your body is about 70 percent water, it is important to maintain proper hydration. Temperature regulation, nutrient transportation, and cell oxygenation all rely on water, and the more you sweat, the more difficult these processes become.

Drinking water during and after exercise is not enough! Muscles’ elasticity also depends on water, so your workout will actually feel easier if you hydrate before you begin exercising. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body surpasses the amount of water coming in. And because it’s pretty difficult to run laps when you are passed out on the pavement, be sure to gulp up some extra H2O to compensate for the heat.

Cut Yourself Some Slack
Working out in the heat does not just feel harder, it is harder. According to Shape, your skin relies on the air being somewhat dry so that your body’s moisture can easily evaporate. On a humid day, when the air is full of moisture, it is more difficult for you to sweat. This causes your body temperature to remain high and your workout to feel more difficult.
Don’t beat yourself up over a workout that feels sluggish or unproductive. Stop if you feel light headed, and slow down or lessen the duration of your exercise in severe heat and humidity.

Exercise should always be something beneficial you do for your body. Any time the act of working out becomes dangerous (as it often can in extreme heat), the negative effects outweigh the positive impacts, and exercise should be terminated. When it comes to working out in the heat, be cautious, be smart, and be strong.