Tips for Exercising in the Heat

Hot weather is here and depending on where you live, stifling high humidity is as well. But you still need to get your daily miles, reps, or whichever metric counts your outdoor routine, even if it means exercising in the heat. Follow these rules for hot weather workouts to stay safe, hydrated, and able to put in your next workout.

Preparing your body

If the body isn’t accustomed to warm weather exercises, it takes approximately 10-14 days of exercise in those conditions in order to fully acclimate yourself. Think of it as getting to know someone new that you’re dating, or breaking in a new pair of shoes.

Your body’s “temperature regulation center,” called the hypothalamus, adjusts during this period. Changes during this period include:

  • sweat rate increases
  • sweating begins earlier
  • better distribution of sweat over the whole body
  • sweat becomes hypotonic (less salty)
  • blood volume increases

Sweating during exercise is very important and a great benefit to body temperature regulation, provided the sweat can evaporate easily.

The average person has between 2-4 million sweat glands throughout the surface of our bodies.

Be careful during hot and humid conditions because there is so much moisture in the air that it’s hard for your sweat to evaporate and your body temperature can raise quickly.

Rules for Exercising in the Heat

Some things to think about during hot weather exercise:

  1. Don’t expect peak performance – your heart works harder and not as much blood is delivered to the working muscles.
  2. Clothing should be loose and absorbent, light in color to reflect heat.
  3. Drink water during, before and after exercise.
  4. You only need electrolyte replacement drinks (Gatorade/Powerade) if you are performing long term exercise (90-plus minutes).
  5. Use sunscreen – not oil based or suntan oil.

How your body stays cool while working out in the heat

The body dissipates heat 4 ways:

  1. Conduction – heat transfer from one solid object to another. The transfer is always from the warmer object to the cooler object.
  2. Radiation – the loss of heat in the form of infrared rays
  3. Convection – heat transfer from the body to the surrounding air. Air temperature must be cooler than skin temperature in order for this to occur. Wind is a good example.
  4. Evaporation – sweat from the skin results in heat loss by the body.

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