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When it is too Hot to Workout

26 July 2016

Regular exercise improves your physical and emotional well-being but only when it does not contribute to a heat-related illness. During the summer months, the risk of heatstroke or heat-related illnesses will impact your workout routine.

The University of Connecticut reports that almost 700 people die from heat-related illnesses each year. Exerting your body and going through a workout routine during extremely high temperatures increases the risk of heat-related illness and heat-related death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that you can avoid heat-related illnesses by taking measures to keep your body temperature within a safe, healthy range.

Hot Temperatures

Women's Health Magazine explains that two factors impact the body's ability to regulate your core body temperature: heat and humidity. The actual temperature outside impacts your ability to perform at an optimal level due to the way it increases the body’s temperature during an exercise routine.

As a general rule, do not exercise strongly when the temperature outside exceeds 90 degrees. According to Patient Memoirs, a temperature of 104° causes harm to the body and starts breaking down cells. Opt for indoor exercise during hot temperatures or wait until the temperatures cool down enough in the evening.

Humidity and Exercise

Although the temperature plays a role in the decision to exercise outdoors, it is not the only factor to consider when exercising during the summer. Humidity is an important part of the equation because it impacts your body's natural thermoregulation.

Excessive humidity means that sweat does not evaporate from skin. As a result, a person’s body does not effectively reduce the core body temperature throughout the workout routine and instead maintains a higher temperature. When humidity combines with high temperatures, it leads to dangerous results. Weight Watchers reports that running or exercising at a similar level during a time of high humidity increases the risk of heat-related illnesses or overheating.

Ways to Prevent Overheating

Preventing heat-related illness ensures that people can continue performing at their peak because they maintain a healthy body throughout the summer months. Simple ways to prevent heat-related illness and overheating include:

  • Exercising indoors when the temperatures reach 90°
  • Stay indoors during high humidity and high temperature
  • Exercise in the early morning or evening hours
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout routine
  • Wear clothing that cools the body like a cooling hat
  • Exercise in a pool
  • Stick with regular workout routines
  • Do not deviate from a normal exercise routine or try out new forms of exercise during the hottest days of the year. Follow normal workout routines or schedules – or tone it down some – so that the body feels comfortable and so injury risk is reduced. Maintain peak performance by exercising indoors or waiting until the temperatures drop before going outside for exercise. If someone must exercise during the hottest times of the day, opt for water-related exercises that keep a body cool. For example, swim laps in a pool or use weights in a pool for resistance training.

    Keep A Body Healthy

    Stay healthy by taking measures to avoid dehydration, low levels of electrolytes or poor dietary habits. Drink at least 16 ounces of water before stepping outside and drink 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of constant exercise. Replenish electrolytes by eating a well-balanced diet and adding a little extra salt to your normal diet. A person loses salt as well as water when they sweat, so people need to make sure they replenish their nutrients.

    Eat cool foods with a high nutritional content. One thing people often notice is a change in their desire to eat. So what people do eat should maximize nutrients and eat regularly, about every two to three hours. Food items that help during the summer months include:

  • Frozen grapes
  • Fresh watermelon
  • Cold or frozen strawberries
  • Cucumber
  • Cold whole-grain pasta
  • Cold citrus fruits
  • Bananas (for potassium)
  • Sandwiches