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Is it Too Hot to Exercise?


Whether you’re running, biking, swimming, or going for a power walk, take care as temperatures rise during what many call the “dog days of summer.” Many people wonder: When is it too hot to exercise, and how can I still fit in my activity this summer?

Two factors play into how the temperature feels: air temperature and humidity. High-humidity days may feel warmer than low-humidity days with higher temperatures. Generally, when the heat index is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should use extreme caution when heading outdoors for activity or intense exercise. When the temperatures are high, there is an increased risk of serious heat-related illnesses.

While exercising outdoors typically is safe in warmer temperatures, it’s important to use these common-sense precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Rise and shine: If possible, aim to get your structured activity in before the heat intensifies. It’s a refreshing way to start off the day, and you won’t have to risk missing your workout. Try to avoid exercising between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. because that’s generally the hottest part of the day.
  • Escape indoors:  If it’s not possible to avoid the hottest times of day, then try something new! Head indoors to an air-conditioned mall for walking, attend a new class at a local gym, or try an at-home workout. It’s always a good idea to try something new — and if it helps you avoid the heat, even better!
  • Stay hydrated:  Before you even head out, drink a glass or two of water. Carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack such as the CamelBak. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you’re not thirsty. When you’re done with your workout, have a few more glasses of water to make sure you are well hydrated. I tend to weigh myself before and after outdoor activity so I know how much water to take in after being active.
  • Stay stylish: Exercising in the heat is one of the few times I really suggest an emphasis on your wardrobe. Wear light-colored, loose clothing and sunglasses. Top off your outfit with a visor or hat. Also don’t forget sweat-proof sunscreen — and if you are outdoors for an extended period of time, reapply often.

Lastly, remember to listen to your body! Stop exercise immediately and head indoors if you find that you are feeling dizzy, faint, or nauseous. Safety is the first priority while staying active in the summer heat. Whether your goal is to maintain your current exercise regimen, train for a race, or just stay healthy, it’s important to find ways to avoid skipping activity because of the summer heat. With a little planning, you will be able to fit in your favorite activities this summer!

How do you avoid letting the heat take its toll on your activity plans this summer?