1. Ease Up
Know when to ease up, especially if you’re traveling to hot and humid climates you’re unaccustomed to. Chances are, you won’t be able to exercise at the intensity you normally do, and that’s okay.
If you normally run, walk or jog. If you walk, slow your pace. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually pick up the pace and length of your workout.
If you have a medical condition and/or take prescription medications, do ask your physician if you need to take any additional precautions.
2. Avoid the hottest part of the day.
Rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset or later. In the heat of midday (typically between 10 am and 4 pm) take cover under shade. Dip your head and hair in water before and after your training session.
3. Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing.
Dark colors absorb the heat, which can make you feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm blanket. Heavyweight, tight-fitting clothing will also heat you up. Keep it loose. Keep it light. More air will be able to circulate over your skin, keeping you cool.
5. Drink up.
Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature. Our body’s natural cooling system can start to fail if we’re exposed to soaring temperatures for too long. The result may be heat exhaustion – that awful fatigue that makes you feel as if one more step could be your last. You may even suffer heat stroke.
If the humidity is also way up, you’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin; it doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send body temperature even higher.
To keep cool, drink plenty of water. After exercise, drink more – at a minimum, .5 of a litre. Another great way to help re-hydrate during a pause in your physical activity is to eat a piece of fruit, or even carrots or celery sticks. The fruit and veggies will also help replace valuable electrolyte loss.
6. Keep track of your hydration levels.
A good way to know that you’re hydrating properly is by checking the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow (think lemonade), you’re well hydrated. If it’s darker (heading toward the color of apple juice), drink more.
But do be aware that some medications and supplements alter the color of urine, so this gauge, while good for many, does not work for everyone. To be safe, do drink the recommended 200 to 500ml of water for every 20 minutes of activity.
7. Don’t drink too much.
Drinking too much water, called overhydration, can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium). To stay hydrated but not overly so, make sure you have been eating enough sodium and replacing the amino acids lost in sweat.
8. Steer clear of sports drinks.
They’re loaded with calories. Sports drinks are not worth the caloric weight.
Sports drinks should only be considered if you’re of ideal body weight and exercising for long durations at high intensities. Even then, it’s a good idea to dilute sports drinks to avoid excessive calorie consumption.
Eating fruits and vegetables during exercise provides ample electrolytes for the body, even further decreasing the need for high-calorie sports drinks.
Keep in mind that the cause of muscle cramping is more often caused by dehydration than by low electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, calcium), low salt intake, or low sugar intake. So, rather than eating excessive amounts of bananas or salty or sugary snacks, increase your water intake during and after exercise, even if you don’t feel thirsty. (Use the urine-color-tracking tip described above to monitor your hydration levels.)
9. Never let yourself get to the point where you’re feeling faint, dizzy, and sick.
Sure, it kills you not to finish your workout. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling any of the following, find air-conditioned comfort fast.
Dizziness/Paling of the skin
Nausea or vomiting
Always remember that even a 20-minute workout has positive health effects. It’s the number of days you exercise that matters most, not the length of time of any given exercise session.
10. If you do feel faint and/or sick, stop immediately.
Sit down in the shade, drink water, and always have with you a nourishing snack. Pick juicy snacks like fruit. The last thing you need in scorching heat is dry snacks like crackers, popcorn, or energy bars that require your body to add water.
11. Know the symptoms of heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a serious threat that can be fatal. Symptoms include:
High body temperature (104 F or 40 C or higher)
ABSENCE OF SWEATING with hot, flushed, or red/dry skin
And, if untreated, death