It’s hotter than Hades outside. Like sweat dripping down my back hot. July and August tend be some of the hottest months out of the year making it extremely difficult, and dangerous, to exercise outside. While the extreme heat is a reasonable excuse for not going for a run, there are tips the average joe and intense exerciser can do to survive exercising during a heat wave:
For The Average Joe
Eat and Drink Properly
It’s exercising 101: stay hydrated. To avoid heat cramps, drink plenty of water or a sports drink like Gatorade for electrolytes. During extreme heat, it is recommended that you drink 4 cups of water per hour. If you’re like me and can’t keep track of how much water you’ve drunken, invest in Hidrate Spark, a smart bottle that monitors your fluid intake and reminds you to drink. It is important to note that you should not gulp all at once, but take tiny sips. I made this mistake last year during a 10+ mile run and threw up shortly later.
When meal planning, it’s best to eat well balanced and light meals regularly, rather than 2 or 3 large meals. Think the common weight loss trick of eating smaller meals throughout the day. Large meals take more energy to digest which causes your body temperature to increase. Remember, the goal is control your body temperature.
Wear as little as possible – within reason
AVOID dark colors like the plaque, as these absorb the heat. DO wear loose-fitting, light weight and lightly colored clothing as these reflect light. Consider digging up your Nike or Under Armour tank as synthetic sports fabric are designed to wick away perspiration. Though I am not sure sports attire is workplace approved. But maybe your boss can grant an exception during a heat wave.
It’s Opposites Day: Exercise Indoors
Obviously when it’s extremely hot, the safest and easiest way to exercise is to do it indoors. I don’t know about you, but sweating my balls off from a HIIT or treadmill run is the last thing I want to do when it’s super hot. Instead, opt for a sweat free workout from a compact elliptical. You get the benefits of an elliptical workout without the intensity. Bonus, these compact elliptical are so small they can fit under your desk which means you could workout at the office. Boo ya.
For The Serious Exerciser or Athlete
*Disclaimer: everyday recreational athletes should concentrate on staying healthy, not on performance
Cool Your Undies
Yes you heard me right, stick your underwear in the fridge. Sports researchers have been experimenting with a technique called pre-cooling which involves lowering the body’s temperature before a workout allowing you to exercise more comfortably. Other popular examples of pre-cooling are taking cold showers, wearing cooling vests and drinking icy beverages like slushies. If this seems a little wacky, Journal of Sports Medicine recently did a review of pre-cooling strategies and found that pre-cooling improved endurance performance in hot conditions by nearly 4% . However the fitness community generally agrees that pre-cooling techniques have more of a placebo effect – if you can make someone feel cooler, they will run faster. Honestly when it’s THAT hot out, I will do anything to make exercising more comfortable.
Drench Your Head With Water
In extreme heat, our heart rate rises as the circulatory system works harder to deliver warm blood from our body’s core to skin. One simple trick to cool yourself is to pour water over your head. I am training for the Chicago Marathon and swear by this trick. However, similar to pre-cooling, pouring cold water over yourself will make exercising more tolerable, pour water on your head does not necessarily improve performance. Hey I will take any relief I can get. But best of luck if it’s humid. Humidity makes it more difficult for the body to cool itself, no matter how much water your drink or pour over your head.
Whether you are an extreme athlete or an average joe, exercising in the extreme heat can be dangerous. Before you start your day, it is important to check the weather to ensure you are prepared to for the heat wave.