When warm weather gives way to oppressively hot temperatures, just thinking about heading out for summer workouts can be draining. It’s not all in your head — working up a serious sweat during the summer puts a lot of added stress on your body. Mayo Clinic explained the hot weather leads to a more dramatic increase in body temperature. Your body sends more blood to circulate through the skin as a way to cool off, but it also increases your heart rate. The article also explained that humidity makes things even worse since it prevents sweat from evaporating off of your skin.
The heat definitely makes you feel bogged down, but it can also be harmful if you aren’t careful. Above all else, staying hydrated is the most important thing to remember. Livestrong explained that adequate hydration not only ensures you maintain fluid levels, but also helps to cool your core temperature. Gulping down some borderline hot water from a hot plastic bottle might not cut it, though. When the temperatures soar, these six tips will help you keep your cool so you don’t have to miss a workout.
1. Bring a smarter water bottle
Carrying water with you is an absolute necessity if you’re exercising outside. There might be drinking fountains here and there, but you’re going to need more than a few sips to keep yourself feeling cool. Classic models aren’t the best choices, though. Even if your water is chilly when you step out the door, extreme heat will go to work on the liquid pretty fast. Today’s water bottles are a lot more advanced, and some have features designed to keep your beverage cold a lot longer than a plain, plastic bottle. Outside tested a number of insulated models to see how well they lived up to their thermoregulation claims. Many of the predicted favorites fared pretty well and were also really lightweight.
If you don’t want to bother with shopping around for the perfect bottle, you can use your standard model in a different way. You may have tried adding a handful of ice cubes before and been unimpressed with the results. Take things a step farther by following Runner’s World’s advice: Fill the container halfway full, then lay it on its side and stick it in the freezer overnight. Right before you leave, pull it out of the freezer and fill it the rest of the way with cold water. Whatever you do, don’t try to fill the bottle all the way full before stashing it overnight. Water expands when it freezes, so the container will crack. Besides, you want to have some water already melted at the beginning so you don’t get behind on hydrating.
2. Go early, or late
Exercising during the sunniest part of the day might seem like a good idea from the air conditioning of your office building, but you’ll be suffering after just a few minutes out the door. Instead of using your lunch break as exercise time, opt for a cooler part of the day. SparkPeople recommended exercising outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
If going for a workout in the morning sounds like a nightmare, consider some strategies that make exercising right when you wake a little bit easier. The Huffington Post suggested putting everything out the night before and setting two alarms. After a few weeks, it’ll just be a regular part of your day.
3. Seek out shade
Sometimes you have no choice but to head out in the middle of the day to squeeze in some exercise. While that’s not the ideal situation, heading toward the shade can make it feel a lot better. The Huffington Post explained that going for areas near trees, tall buildings, and even fences can help you feel less wiped. The article explained that direct sun exposure can make you feel significantly hotter. Even if you have to run or bike a little bit further to get to the shaded part of a path, it’ll ultimately be worth it.
Though the air temperature is the same whether you’re getting a full blast of sunshine or underneath a canopy, your body perceives a big difference. Jim Lushine, a former meteorologist, told Sun Sentinel that the shade can feel as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler when it’s really toasty outside. You might look silly running from one side of a path to the other to follow the trees, but you could end up having a much more enjoyable workout.
4. Grab some new gear
A cotton shirt and some basketball shorts might be acceptable attire for warm days, but those fabrics aren’t going to do you any favors when it’s scorching. You could always go shirtless, but some performance fabrics could actually be a better choice. Runner’s World listed their top picks, including a mesh singlet designed to eliminate chafing. Some tops even offer UV protection.
You can take more drastic measures if you’ll be out for a long time. Ultra-marathoner Matt Hart told Outside he cuts a tight-fitting scarf in half, fills it with ice, and then wraps it around his neck. If you’re willing to break the bank, consider purchasing a cooling vest.
5. Try something different
Biking, running, tennis, and basketball are phenomenal exercises any time of the year, but they can all prove extremely challenging during a heat wave. If it’s just too hot for your regular activity, try something different. Lifehacker recommended swimming or surfing. You’ll still be able to enjoy the outdoors, but the exercise will be a lot more manageable. The article also suggested giving indoor ice sports, like hockey, a go.
6. Head indoors
In some extreme instances, going outside just isn’t a good idea. Active.com said that runners should be particularly wary of hot weather if they live in an area with a lot of pollution. Hitting the treadmill or taking a day off is probably a better bet.
If you insist on putting in some time outdoors, consider adapting your workout. Kenny Boyd, athletic trainer for the football team at the University of Texas, told U.S. News and World Report to try just the core part of your workout outside. You can use the gym for your warm up and cool down. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you don’t have unreasonable expectations. No one’s going to set a new record in 100-degree weather.