Exercising in hot weather presents significant challenges to your health, but with appropriate strategies, it can be safe and effective.
Josh Weight, Director of Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Rehabilitation at Gravity Physio (USA), suggests making use of air-conditioned spaces when the heat becomes unbearable.
“Visit a gym to join a fitness class or try new indoor exercises like dancing or interactive fitness apps to make your workout enjoyable and engaging,” Weight advises. According to Weight, for many people, a cool and controlled environment will enhance their workout experience.
Early Morning Exercise
A great way to beat the heat is to exercise before the temperature reaches its peak.
“Exercising in the cool morning with lower temperatures not only reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses but also allows you to start your day with a refreshing energy boost,” says Weight. Additionally, you’ll feel accomplished having completed your workout while others are still hitting the snooze button.
James Dixon, a personal trainer, supports this viewpoint, believing that early morning workouts are much safer. Based on his personal experience, a calm and gentle start to the early morning enhances exercise habits significantly compared to later in the day.
Swimming is a safe exercise option that avoids the risk of heat-related illnesses or injuries.
“Swimming, water aerobics, or even underwater volleyball are refreshing ways to stay active when temperatures soar. The buoyancy of the water provides gentle yet effective resistance, benefiting your muscles while keeping you cool,” notes Weight.
Find Cool Exercise Locations
If you’ve decided to brave the heat and exercise outdoors, there are still ways to limit direct exposure to the sun.
“Look for shaded areas like tree-lined paths or parks with overhead canopies,” suggests Weight. These spots not only help avoid intense sunlight but also create a peaceful ambiance amidst natural surroundings.
Dixon emphasizes the importance of protecting your skin even when exercising in shaded or cooler areas. Don’t just apply sunscreen with high SPF on beach days; use it for all prolonged outdoor activities.
Choosing the right workout gear makes a difference in comfort and safety when exercising on hot sunny days.
“Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that allow ventilation and proper sweat evaporation,” says Weight.
Wearing bright-colored clothing can reflect sunlight and help keep you cooler. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face, and use a pair of sunglasses with UV protection to safeguard your eyes from harsh sun rays.
Hydration and Electrolytes
During high temperatures, experts advise carrying fluids to hydrate before, during, and after workouts. “Drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water daily. During workouts, opt for sports drinks that replenish lost salts and minerals,” says Dixon.
Trista Best, a nutrition expert, explains that sweating not only causes water loss but also depletes electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining fluid balance and supporting proper muscle and nerve function.
During hot workouts, consuming electrolyte-rich drinks can help restore these lost minerals, improve the hydration process, and prevent electrolyte imbalances. In particular, sodium aids in water retention and enhances the body’s ability to absorb water, while potassium is crucial for muscle contraction and maintaining normal heart function.
Listen to Your Body
LS Wang, an orthopedic surgeon and Medical Director at Arete Orthopaedic Clinic in Singapore, advises paying attention to how you feel during workouts.
If you experience dizziness, fainting, nausea, or stop sweating, immediately stop exercising. Experts believe these are signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Wang suggests gradually adapting to exercising with light to heavy intensity to better control your limits.
Interval training can help lower body temperature between intense periods of exertion. “Contrary to common misconceptions, such methods can actually burn more calories,” says the expert.