25 Jul 5 Ways to Incorporate Exercise in the Hot Summer Months
A beautiful sunny day can be the ultimate motivation to go outside and workout, but the summer heat and exercise can be a risky combination. If you’re not careful, you could end up suffering from a heat-related condition, such as a heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or dehydration.
Fortunately, we got you covered! Use these tips and exercises below to help you to workout safely, even on the hottest summer days.
- Dress appropriately. What you wear is important when exercising in the heat. For hot weather, light-colored, sweat-wicking clothing is better and dark, heavier clothing can make you even hotter. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen! Choose water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels), and apply it 30 minutes before going out.
- Hydration is key! On a hot day, water is your best friend for staying hydrated; however, if you’re going to be active for more than 60 minutes, you might want to consider a sports drink. Sports drinks are great when working out for lengthy periods of time in the heat because they contain electrolytes that can rehydrate and replenish your body. A good rule of thumb is to weigh yourself before and after working out, and replace each pound of weight loss with 2 to 3 cups of water1.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day. The hottest part of the day in the summer is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you’re going to do an exercise outside, aim to do it before or after this time.
- Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When you exercise in hot, humid weather, your body’s core temperature rises quickly, placing you at danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat illness that can develop after several days of high temperatures and insufficient or unbalanced fluid replacement. Signs and symptoms include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark urine
- Cool, moist skin
On the other hand, heat stroke is a more serious heat-related illness and within 10 to 15 minutes, your body temperature could reach 103°F or more2. Signs and symptoms include:
- Dry, hot skin (no sweating)
- Rapid, weak pulse
- A body temperature of above 103°F
Here are 5 ways to stay active in the hot summer:
- Go for a swim. Whether you use an indoor or outdoor pool, this is a great way to stay cool and get a fun workout in! Consider joining a gym that has a swimming pool or sign up for a water aerobics class or even a water Zumba class.
- Try paddle boarding or kayaking. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding both test your balance and core strength while also activating all of your major muscle groups. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up finding a new favorite exercise.
- Head to your indoor gym. On days when there is an excessive heat warning, this can be your best decision to stay cool and avoid a heat-related injury while still getting in your workout.
- Workout from home. There are tons of great at-home workout videos on Youtube that you can utilize with or without equipment! Cleaning your house can also be a great workout.
- Other alternatives. If you normally run or hike outdoors, consider a brisk walk instead. Yoga and pilates are also good forms of exercise to consider in the heat to avoid complications.
Bottom Line: Know your limits. Listen to your body and if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or tired, give yourself a break. Taking some time off for rest is better than overdoing your workout and getting sick or injured and having to stop working out altogether.
If you suspect that you or others are suffering from a heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian/ Consultant