How to Exercise Safely in the Extreme Heat This Summer
With rolling heatwaves hitting Phoenix and the rest of the west coast this summer, it’s important to remember to take safety precautions while exercising. We’ll share how to exercise safely so you can keep making progress in your weight loss goals without suffering from a heat-related illness.
Exercise is one of the most important parts of starting a healthy lifestyle:
- It helps with weight loss
- Boosts overall mood
- Improves mobility and balance
- Boosts metabolism
- And it helps reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce symptoms of various autoimmune diseases
And as many of us want to continue working on our form in the summer when we bare a little more skin, it’s typical to want to continue exercising.
But it is important to continue exercising but to go about it safely.
Greater risk for heat-related illnesses from exercise in the summer
It’s harder to exercise safely in the summer. Hot weather puts additional stress on your body. When it’s hot out, the temperature of your body rises. Exercise has the same effect. So when both occur at the same time, there’s a far greater risk of your body overheating.
Your body has mechanisms to prevent this like sweating and circulating more blood through your skin. But this also leaves less blood for your muscles and increases your heart rate even further than it naturally increases from exercise.
All of these factors combined make it far easier to reach a dangerous level of exhaustion. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are possible reactions to exercising in excessive heat.
Heatstroke is when your body temperature reaches 104 F and higher. It’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Fast and strong pulse
- Hot, red, and dry skin
Heat exhaustion is typically less severe than a heat stroke, but can still be life-threatening.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Pale, clammy skin that’s cool to the touch
- Heavy sweating
- Weak but fast pulse
The best course of action for heat exhaustion is to find somewhere cool to recover. If possible, lie down and remove any heavy layers of clothing. Replenish and cool down with cool water or a sports drink. But if nausea progresses to vomiting, then seek medical attention immediately.
These risks are the most dangerous factor of exercising outside in the summer. But heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be avoided. You can continue reaping the health benefits of exercise and continue your weight loss journey when you take the right precautions.
So here are 5 tips for how to exercise safely when it’s above 90 degrees outside.
1. Don’t exercise outside if it’s too hot
While it’s fun to get outside for your daily exercise, it’s not worth it if you are putting yourself in extra danger from heatstroke or heat exhaustion. When it’s extremely hot outside, it’s best to just not exert yourself outside at all.
Instead, opt to exercise in a cool environment–either at home or at a local gym. With air conditioning and regulated temperatures in these locations, you protect yourself from experiencing dangerous heat levels outside.
2. Stay hydrated every day
While it’s important to stay hydrated all year round, it’s even more important in the summer.
Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heat-related illness. Dehydration increases the chances of becoming overheated and suffering from more severe heat-induced health complications. Aim for anywhere from 1.5 to 3 liters of water per day and you will be able to stay properly hydrated, even when it’s hot outside.
It’s also important to replace electrolytes lost through sweat, a sports drink during or after your workout can help you stay hydrated as well. Fruits and vegetables are also natural sources of electrolytes—especially bananas, kiwis, avocado, watermelon, and coconut water. Using these as part of your post-workout snack can help you replenish and stay safe.
And while outdoor gatherings with alcohol are more common in the summer, it’s best to curb alcohol intake when it’s hot. Alcohol contributes to dehydration, which makes it easier to develop heat-related illnesses.
3. Use caution and don’t push yourself too far
When it’s hot out is not the time to push yourself harder than you normally do. Avoid pushing for personal records if you’re training outside. Don’t use this time to try running farther and faster than you ever have before.
This is especially true if you are new to exercise. When your body isn’t conditioned, it has to work harder to cool you down and keep you in a place of balance. The best thing to do is play it safe and allow yourself these few summer months to keep exercising, but be generous with yourself and allow a slower pace and less intensity.
4. Dress for hot weather
Heavy clothing makes it much harder to exercise safely. While many like to wear heavier and darker clothing to increase the amount of sweat and drop water weight, the height of summertime isn’t the time to do it. Make sure to wear light colors and lightweight clothing. Breathable clothing that allows sweat to easily evaporate from your skin helps you stay cool.
5. Avoid exercise around midday
If hiking or running outside is your primary form of exercise and you aren’t interested in doing other types of exercise, you can still do it. But it’s wise not to exercise in the middle of the day. Choose early morning before the sun has fully risen or evening as the suns goes down.
And no matter the time of day, if the sun is out at all, make sure to wear sunscreen. Any amount of sunburn makes it harder for your body to cool down and increases the chance of heat-related emergencies.
Not sure how to start exercising for weight loss?
The best way to exercise for weight loss is to combine a mix of cardio and strength training with a healthy diet. Diet is essential to help you lose unwanted weight, and exercise is essential to build the kind of body you want.
But it’s not easy to get started or to know if what you’re doing right when you go through your weight loss journey alone.
And when you’re starting out, it’s critical to start slowly and safely to prevent injury–especially in the summer when heat stroke and heat exhaustion are more common and fatal.
At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we help you get started on a plan you’re capable of following. We take into consideration everything about your preferences, your health history, and your goals to create a weight loss plan that’s right for you. Whether that includes diet and exercise alone, or weight loss supplements and programs, we help you exercise safely and efficiently drop to your ideal weight.
- No more stopping and starting random diet plans and getting frustrated when they don’t work
- Enjoy following a weight loss plan tailored to your needs with 1:1 support
- Feel supported and empowered by a team that wants to see you succeed
To get help on your weight loss journey, visit one of our Phoenix locations and you’ll get one-on-one help from one of our doctors.
We’ll get you started on a plan that’s safe, effective, and enjoyable so you can see the results you’ve been waiting for.
By Jodi Jaffe
July 15, 2021