Beat the Heat: Tips for Outdoor Summer Exercise

Beat the Heat: Tips for Outdoor Summer Exercise

As summer temperatures continue to rise, taking thermal precautions becomes crucial, especially if you exercise outdoors. A physical therapist at Baylor College of Medicine discusses how to evaluate your outdoor workouts this summer.

“If you plan to exercise in hot weather, know your fitness level, take frequent breaks, dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, avoid the hottest times of the day, and hydrate,” said Melanie McNeil, director of physical and occupational therapy at the Center for Physical and Occupational Therapy. “, hydrate, hydrate.” Joseph Barnhart Department of Orthopedics at Baylor.

If you don’t naturally exercise in the heat or are starting to exercise in the heat for the first time, be very careful as you will have a lower heat tolerance. Start slowly and avoid intense exercise. Remember to take frequent breaks to hydrate. Exercise early in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.


McNeil recommends over-preparing for your workout by bringing in more water than you expect to use. If your workout is an hour long, she suggests having at least 40 to 60 ounces of water on hand. Depending on your sweat level, you may need more. The cooling towel also helps reduce body temperature and can be used throughout exercise to prevent heat illness. Apply it behind the neck, under the arms and on the forehead for maximum benefit.

It is best to wear lightweight, light-colored, sweat-resistant clothing while exercising in warm temperatures. Dark colors and heavy materials will exacerbate sweating. Use sunscreen and avoid exercising in hot weather if you suffer from sunburn, because sunburn prevents the body from cooling itself.

Sports and hydration

The driest sports are those played in hot weather with heavy equipment, such as soccer, or those in which you move without stopping, such as soccer and long-distance running. Although swimming is not at the top of this list, depending on the temperature, distance, time and intensity, there is still a risk of causing dehydration.

“Swimming can be tricky, because when you’re in the water, you don’t realize you’re sweating and losing water,” McNeil said. “It is very important to take frequent breaks and hydrate with water or an electrolyte drink to replenish what you lose.”

MacNeil added that swimming is excellent exercise for any age. It requires core strength and flexibility, and activates every muscle in the body, which benefits cardiovascular endurance.

Whatever the activity, the key is to drink before you feel thirsty.

“By the time you feel thirsty, this is already a sign that the body is dehydrated,” she said. “If you exercise at very high intensity and/or for long periods and sweat heavily, drinking a sports drink in addition to water is helpful to replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose in sweat.”

Take breaks

Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or headache, excessive sweating, low blood pressure, or vision disturbances. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately, move away from the heat to allow your body temperature to decrease and hydrate with fluids and electrolytes.

Internal alternatives

When the weather is too warm and you want to exercise indoors, visit your gym or take classes based on your fitness level and needs. There are also many apps and online memberships that provide good workouts depending on the equipment available. If you have little to no equipment, you can still challenge yourself with a bodyweight workout at home. McNeil outlines different at-home exercises based on strength training and cardio.

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