Exercising in the Heat

I just got back from a week long vacation at the beach with my family in Sag Harbor, NY . We had a great time. The weather was very hot, humid and sunny. I don’t remember being so hot at the beach. You had to be in the water all day just to be comfortable. I left the beach around 1:00 PM one day to get lunch for my wife and kids and was surprised to see so many people running and biking in 100 degree heat with high humidity in the middle of the day.

I had to stop and help two guys in their fifties who were lying down in the shade  on the side of the road with their bikes. They were red in the face and looked like they had heat exhaustion. I pored cold water on their heads, gave them some Gatorade, and in a few minutes they started to feel better. No one wants to miss workouts but you have to take precautions when exercising in the heat, especially if the humidity is high. You can die from heat stroke so you have to be careful.

How the body heats & cools itself while exercising

The body overheats when it can’t cool itself. Your body cools itself from water evaporating from your skin and by sending blood to the skin to be cooled. This is why you sweat and get red all over. When your body is hot internally it  tries to cool itself by  the evaporation of sweat and  by moving blood to the periphery of your body.  It’s a problem when the humidity is high because you sweat but the water does not evaporate off you skin so it does not cool you off and you can wind up dehydrated. In addition, when you’re exercising your muscles need oxygen from your blood so there is a tug of war between cooling the blood by moving it to the skin or keeping it in the muscle where it is needed for oxygen.

Precautions for exercising in the heat

1- Don’t exercise outside in the middle of the day. Workout in the morning or evening to avoid the heat.

2- If it’s excessively hot and humid, take it easy. Go for a walk and don’t push yourself. Or even better, take a day off from training.

3- Drink water or a sports drink with electrolytes. Depending on your size, drink anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces for ever 20 minutes of exercise.

4- Dress lightly and wear light-colored sports wear.

5- You can weigh yourself before and after you workout. If you lose water weight replace it by drinking and eating foods that have a high water content

Warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke while exercising

If you’re exercising and you start sweating profusely or feel lightheaded, nausea or faint; stop exercising  and go to a cool place. Drink a sports drink and if possible, apply ice packs to underarms and neck. If your blood pressure drops  and your body temperature is high ( 106 or higher), call EMS. You could have heat stroke which is a medical emergency.

I hope you find this information helpful. I love exercising outside in the summer but you have to be careful of the heat.

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Best – Mike Cola

Demystifying Exercise

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About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York. Connect with Mike @ Google+

3 Responses to “Exercising in the Heat”

  1. I exercise in summer too, but I am a pedestrian and walk everywhere. My exercise is also my transportation.

  2. Very interesting article. I’ve spent time training Muay Thai in Thailand (where temperatures were always near the 40s). Yet we still trained 6 hrs a day.

    I think the body becomes accustomed to the heat and knows how to deal with it.

  3. Hey Srdjan,

    I always have a harder time exercising outside in the beginning of the summer until I get used to the heat. But after a few weeks I get used to it and feel fine.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Best – Mike