How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather

Published on: 28/06/2021

Your dedication to your workout routine even in the heat of summer can lead to amazing results, but make sure to keep safety first and read our precautions.

With the heat we’re all experiencing, we may not have seen the end of the dry season just yet. While we do enjoy the sunny weather, the high temperature can make some outdoor activities unbearable. For those who are committed to their fitness goals and routines, it’s then essential to know how to continue exercising safely, as the hot weather can put extra stress on the body.

How does the hot temperature affect the body?

Aside from the air temperature and humidity, your exercise workout itself can also increase your core body temperature. To help you cool down, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. When this happens, there’s less blood going to your muscles, which could then increase your heart rate.

In addition, the body faces an added challenge in humid conditions (especially in the summertime) because it makes sweat less likely to evaporate from your skin. This then results in an even higher body temperature.

What are the dangers of prolonged exposure to high temperatures and humidity?

When the body is unable to cool itself properly, you increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. These illnesses come in many forms and in different severities. The most common are:

  • Heat cramps - occur when there are painful muscle contractions that occur with exercise. These are most often the result of electrolyte and fluid loss. 
  • Heat exhaustion - symptoms include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and headache. Cramps could also be an indicator of heat exhaustion. If heat exhaustion is not properly treated, it can lead to dire consequences, such as heatstroke. 
  • Heatstroke - without the proper measures to cool down, the heat illness could become a medical emergency. This occurs when your body temperature reaches higher than 40°C (104°F), and symptoms may include confusion and fainting. This illness presents a serious risk of brain and organ damage (possibly death), so urgent medical help is needed. 

How do you keep yourself safe while exercising in the summer?

Keep the following precautions in mind as you do your workouts in hot weather:

Drink more water

To stay hydrated, health expert Dr. Mehmet C. Oz recommends drinking two glasses of water one hour before your workout. If your workout takes longer than 90 minutes or if you are sweating profusely, a sports drink may be able to help you better replace lost electrolytes. Make sure to avoid alcoholic drinks during this time, as they promote more fluid loss.

Avoid exercising during the midday

Find a time when it's likely to be cooler outdoors (even if you will be exercising indoors). As much as possible, exercise in the morning or evening, and in shady areas. 

Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen

Sunny weather conditions mean it's time to bring out those lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. These help sweat evaporate and keep you cooler as you do your exercises. A cap or a wide-brimmed hat may also help deflect heat. Make sure to avoid dark colors, which do the opposite. 

To avoid sunburn ( which further decreases your body's ability to cool itself) make sure to apply a high-SPF sunscreen to exposed skin.

Decrease the intensity of your workout

Since heat and humidity can contribute to the increase in your heart rate, Dr. Oz also recommends working out at 60-70% of your normal routine intensity. This keeps your workout safe and should lead to approximately the same results. 

Understand personal medical risks

There are certain medical conditions or medications that increase the risk of a heat-related illness. For example, elderly people and those with high blood pressure are most susceptible to heat exhaustion. Therefore, if you have a specific health condition, make sure to talk to your doctor first before exercising in hot weather.