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Best Tips for Outdoor Exercise in the Summer Heat and Humidity

Exercising outdoors in the summer heat and humidity can be challenging, but with the proper preparation and safety measures, you can still achieve your fitness goals while staying cool. While moving your workouts indoors to air-conditioned spaces is an option, many people can exercise safely outside with a little extra care.

Understanding how heat affects your body, externally and internally, is crucial. Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke is essential, and if you experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, high body temperature (103 degrees F or higher), hot and red skin, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, confusion, or passing out, seek immediate medical attention.

To prevent overheating while exercising outdoors during the summer, consider the following tips and start a healthy outdoor exercise:

1. Give Your Body Time to Adjust to the Heat

Regardless of your fitness level, acclimating to the heat takes time. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over 10 to 14 days, allowing your body to adapt to higher temperatures.

Start with shorter sessions and avoid prolonged or intense workouts in the heat until you’ve become accustomed to it.

2. Know Your Risk

People react to heat differently due to age, genetics, fitness level, and existing health conditions. Those more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses include older adults, non-regular exercisers, people with heart disease or acute illnesses, and those taking certain medications.

If you belong to any of these groups, be extra cautious and consider working out indoors with air conditioning.

3. Prioritize pre-workout Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial year-round, but it becomes even more essential in hot weather. Consume at least 1 ounce (oz) of water for every 2 pounds (lb) of body weight, regardless of whether you exercise.

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, aim for at least 100 oz of water daily. If you’re exercising, drink an additional 12 oz of water a few hours before your workout and again around 30 minutes prior. You can also consider sipping electrolyte-containing beverages for added hydration.

4. Eat Water-rich Foods

Boost your body’s hydration levels by incorporating water-rich foods throughout the day. Cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, celery, raw mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash can help keep you hydrated. For best eating tips and further suggestions, you can read Healthy Eating on a Busy Schedule.

5. Avoid Heavy Meals Before Exercising

Avoid consuming large meals before your workout in hot weather. Digesting food requires energy and generates body heat, diverting blood flow from the working muscles during exercise. This can lead to digestive discomfort and hinder your workout performance.

6. Opt for cooler workout times

The midday sun can significantly increase the temperature, making it the hottest day. Schedule your outdoor workouts during cooler times, such as early morning or late afternoon.

Avoid exercising between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s intensity peaks. Choose shaded routes for running, walking, or biking to reduce direct exposure to the sun.

Concluding Thoughts

Following these tips, you can safely enjoy outdoor exercise in the summer heat and humidity while progressing towards your fitness goals. Always listen to your body and be mindful of the signs of heat-related illness to stay safe and have a rewarding workout experience.

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