Exercising in the Heat – Tips & Tricks

As the dai­ly tem­per­a­tures con­tin­ue to rise, many peo­ple shed their win­ter coats and tread­mill work­out rou­tines and head out­doors for their dai­ly exer­cise. How­ev­er, exer­cis­ing in the warmer weath­er can bring its own chal­lenges such as heat-relat­ed ill­ness­es and injuries. Dr. Rick Gim­bel, an Imme­di­ate Care Physi­cian, offers tips on how you can main­tain your fit­ness goals while stay­ing safe as the weath­er becomes warmer. 

Lis­ten to your body

First and fore­most, you should always lis­ten to your body, espe­cial­ly when exer­cis­ing. When your body becomes over­heat­ed, a cool down process begins by increas­ing sweat pro­duc­tion. When your body can no longer cool itself down any fur­ther, heat-relat­ed ill­ness­es such as faint­ing, cramps, heat exhaus­tion and/​or a stroke can occur. When you start to have signs that your body is over­heat­ing, such as a headache, nau­sea, dizzi­ness or severe sweat­ing, stop your work­out and rest1. If you do expe­ri­ence a heat-relat­ed ill­ness, seek med­ical atten­tion immediately. 


Dai­ly water con­sump­tion varies by age, sex and activ­i­ty. Most adults in the Unit­ed States do not drink enough water on a dai­ly basis. If you plan to be out­side in the heat, it’s rec­om­mend­ed that you increase your water intake to replen­ish your body. Dehy­dra­tion occurs when your body los­es more water than you are con­sum­ing. This can be caused by hot weath­er or an intense work­out. Some signs of dehy­dra­tion include feel­ing light­head­ed, headache, exhaus­tion, con­fu­sion, dry mouth, infre­quent uri­na­tion and dark col­ored urine2. If dehy­dra­tion isn’t addressed, more seri­ous heat-relat­ed ill­ness­es can occur such as heatstroke. 

Plan your workout 

When plan­ning your work­out sched­ule, avoid exer­cis­ing out­side dur­ing the hottest parts of the day by choos­ing to exer­cise in the ear­ly morn­ing or evening hours. Not only will your work­out be less stress­ful on your body because of the low­er tem­per­a­tures, but the sun’s rays will not be as strong. If your sched­ule doesn’t allow for a work­out dur­ing the cool­er parts of the day, ensure that you hydrate, apply sun­screen and short­en your work­out as needed. 

Dur­ing the warmer months, uti­liz­ing a near­by trail for your work­out is a great option. Not only will the trees offer shade, but the trail’s path­way may not radi­ate as much heat as pave­ment. You may also choose to research ahead of time where water bot­tle refill sta­tions are locat­ed and plan your run or walk accordingly. 

Start Slow

To ensure you don’t get injured or become ill, it is rec­om­mend­ed that you accli­mate your­self to exer­cis­ing out­side in the heat by slow­ing increas­ing your time being active out­side. Whether you are run­ning or walk­ing out­side, you should slow your pace until your body feels used to the warmer weath­er. Once accli­mat­ed, you can slow­ly increase your speed and the inten­si­ty of your work­out. It can take up to two weeks for your body to adjust to the warmer temperatures3. 

Be flex­i­ble

If the weath­er fore­cast pre­dicts extreme warmer tem­per­a­tures, change up your work­out rou­tine by going on a bike ride or swim­ming. If there is a heat advi­so­ry, it is best to work­out indoors. If you do not have access to a gym, online work­out class­es and rou­tines are a great option for days you should stay inside but still want to get your dai­ly exercise. 

If you have a med­ical con­di­tion or are on a new med­ica­tion, sched­ule an appoint­ment with your provider to ensure there are not any addi­tion­al pre­cau­tions you can take when exer­cis­ing out­doors this summer.

11Heat exhaus­tion (2020, Novem­ber 10). In Mayo Clin­ic. Retrieved from https://​www​.may​oclin​ic​.org/dis…

2Dehy­dra­tion (2019, Sep­tem­ber 19). In Mayo Clin­ic. Retrieved from https://​www​.may​oclin​ic​.org/dis…

3Weiss, C. (2020, July 10). Mayo Clin­ic Q and A: Safe­ty tips for hot weath­er exer­cise. In Mayo Clin­ic. Retrieved from https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic…

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