How To Exercise When It’s Hot Outside
Exercising in heat need not be a daunting experience. A marathon coach and runner, Suresh Srinivasan shares some handy tips to beat the heat while working out.
Summer heat can be quite exhausting, especially for those who exercise daily. This time of the year one can feel the heat radiating from the surface of the road and the risk of dehydration due to excessive sweating is very high. So, does it mean they should just head back indoors? Absolutely not! We spoke to a seasoned athlete and coach for tips to escape heat while exercising. “Because summer heat can be quite uncomfortable, one has to be practical while working out,” says New Delhi-based amateur athlete and Marathon coach, Suresh Srinivasan.”
Hot and humid climate makes it difficult to perform well and can take a toll on your health and increases the chances of dehydration, heatstroke, and giddiness due to excessive heat transfer from the environment to the body, and recognising the rise in temperature and intensity of exercise at the same time becomes a top priority to avoid health issues during a workout, points out a 2021 study in the journal, Physiological Reviews.
“We need to prepare our body in advance to exercise in the heat. By this, it means that throughout the day, you ought to take care of your body system in all possible ways to function properly without draining your energy like taking adequate rest, keep a check on your stress levels, reduce your caffiene intake and alcohol” says Srinivasan.
Related story: Looking to Get Fitter? Here’s Morning Routine
Here are some tips to exercise in the heat:
1. Replenish With Sodium-Rich Drinks: Water is your best buddy in summer, however, if you are working out for more than one hour, add your fluid intake with energy drinks. To regain lost water during exercise, consume more sodium-rich drinks such as electrolytes, coconut water, to fulfill the loss of water from the body in the form of sweat, suggests Srinivasan. Make sure you are hydrating pre, during and post this will help you to recover well from your exercise without getting fatigued and also prevent exercise headaches which are very common while exercising during heat if your hydration levels go down. Be watchful of your water in-take. There is no one size fits all approach as we are all different and we would get an idea through repeated exercise experience how much our body demands hydration while exercising or performing any cardio activity like running.
2. Refuel With Recovery Fruits: Not just water and drinks, but fluid diets also do wonders in recovering loss of energy after working out in the heat. Have fruits like bananas, apples, watermelons or oranges to overcome muscle fatigue and regain endurance. Eat a healthy diet loaded with vitamins and minerals at every break after exercise to rehydrate lost electrolytes.
Related story: Recovery 101:What To Do Post-Workout
3. Schedule Early Morning Sessions: Summers have long sunlight hours and it can drain your energy even around 7 am. Start your morning drills very early (5 am - 6 am) to avoid harsh sun exposure in the morning. To arrange this schedule, get undisturbed sound sleep a night before at the right time. In case you like to exercise in the evenings, choose sunset time around 6 pm to 7 pm to sweat out at the coolest time of the day. If you have missed the key time then your best bet would be to workout in the shade like a park, in-door such as home or gym rather than abandoning your workout and staying unhappy. It's a great idea to do group/buddy runs or take the trails in summer months to seek shade.
4. Taper Workout Intensity: As an easy and smooth breeze can be difficult to come by in summers, it is wise to reduce the intensity of your workout to avoid burnout and exhaustion due to a higher loss of energy. Srinivasan advises to reduce your pace. If you jog, turn it into a walk. Small changes can make a huge difference in overall health during the heat keeping your charged and motivated for your next session of workout. Do not miss your workout, reducing your pace or sometimes converting into a lower intensity run and combining it with a run walk approach can do more good than harm and still help in releasing those serotonin and endorphins for which we all step out and show-up. Make sure you breathe deeply. Specially in your long slow distance runs take small walk breaks it helps to keep your exhaustion levels under control and keeps the momentum up.
Related story: The World’s greatest Stretch
5. Cool-off In The Pool: Many opt to pour a bottle of cold water over their heads to escape heat quickly. Pouring water over pulse points such as wrist, neck, chest and temples can help you cool down fast. Because blood flows very near to the skin surface in these areas, getting in contact with cold water readily brings down the body temperature. Another great tip to rejuvenate your heating body is to jump into a pool. This brings down the high body temperature after the workout session and helps to reduce body aches.
6. Wear Breathable Clothes: While working out wear only light, sweat-absorbing garments. This will keep you feeling dry most of the time and reduce the urge to itch. Wearing light-coloured clothes will reflect the heat and light fabric will ensure that air is flowing through easily wicking away moisture.
7. Stay Cool : Working out in the summers can not only be dreadful but can exhaust you losing your motivation to complete your workouts. For that there is a proven way to cool your head by putting ice on a bandana/cap and wrapping it on the head, this way you get some cool droplets of ice falling on your neck which can help to dissipate a lot of body heat that is generated through cardio workout in summer, keeping you cooler and helping you to complete your workout preventing fatigue.
8. Recognise Signs of Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a consequential form of heat trauma that can be caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Heatstroke is a preventable condition and knowing symptoms can ease the curing process. Look out for the signs of heatstroke such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, high body temperature (103F or more), passing out, faster heartbeat and breathing.
Suresh Srinivasan is a Certified Marathon Trainer, A Holistic Wellness and Run for Resilience Coach. He is an avid runner who has been running for 21 years and has been passionately practicing distance running for 13 years. He has done several half marathons, marathons in India, Europe and America and has run an ultramarathon. He loves to uncover the scenic part of this world and loves to travel to run.