How time flies. It seems like only yesterday we were trying to figure out ways to spice up our indoor workouts during cold winter months. Now we’re gearing up for things to not just a little hot, but maybe a little too hot. Do you know how to work out safely when the temperatures outside start scorching? Here are eight tips for safely working out when it’s too hot outside.
1. Crunch the Numbers
In most cities, the hottest hours of the day are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To avoid the hottest heat, try to work out outside of those hours – either earlier or later. Also be realistic about the temperature – your workout will likely feel uncomfortable over 75 degrees, and it will get downright dangerous and should be avoided at 104 degrees. Learn the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so you can get yourself out of the situation immediately if you start to experience them. Hydration is also key: make sure you’re drinking a cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Also try to drink two to three cups a few hours before and another cup after your workout.
2. Protect Your Skin
Even on cloudy days, you should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. On hotter days, it’s even more important – and you may need to increase the SPF significantly. (Look for oil-free, sweat-proof sunscreens designed for physical activities.) Protect your head and eyes with a hat and sunglasses. On hot days, stay away from cotton clothing and opt for polyester/cotton blends, or look for workout clothes with synthetic materials designed to wick away sweat.
3. Choose Your Snacks Wisely
If you’re the type of person who reaches for an energy bar, crackers or popcorn to fuel your workout, you may need to change your tune during the summer months. Dry snacks like these require your body to add water. On hot days, your body’s water is a limited resource. Instead choose juicy snacks like fruit, which will help you stay hydrated.
4. Get Acclimated
If you’re not accustomed to working out in the heat, start with shorter and lower-intensity workouts until you’ve built up your heat endurance – a process that can take 10 to 14 days. Above all else, listen to your body. It’s more important to be safe than it is to risk the heat for a workout.
5. Factor in the Humidity
Working out in humid conditions can be extremely stressful for your body. When we work out, our bodies cool themselves by excreting sweat. Once the sweat is on our skin, it evaporates and cools us down. On humid days, when the entire air is filled with fluid and nothing evaporates, you’re less likely to experience the cooling effects of sweat and more likely to experience the effects of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
6. Get Up Early
When the heat and humidity can’t be avoided and you absolutely don’t want to give up your outdoor workout, consider an early morning sweat session. Imagine yourself doing outdoor yoga with the sunrise – how awesome would that be? (Answer: a lot more awesome than trying the same workout in the middle of the day and passing out in the middle of it.)
7. Trade Your Running Shoes for a Swimsuit
Is there anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than a dip in the pool? Don’t worry – just because it’s refreshing doesn’t mean it needs to be an easy workout. Challenge yourself in the pool as much as you would pounding the pavement. Need some inspiration? Here are 100 swimming workout ideas.
8. Stay Indoors
If you’ve been trapped inside all winter long by cold weather, you may not want to hear this: when it’s way too hot outside, your best bet is to stay indoors. Follow the moves from a workout routine in your favorite fitness magazine. Go to the gym and take a yoga or Pilates class. Finally try out that workout DVD you’ve been meaning to do. Get on the rowing machine or exercise bike at the gym. Dance around the house. The possibilities are endless. There are only two rules: have fun and be safe.