Smart Tips for Exercising in Steamy Summer Weather

Smart Tips for Exercising in Steamy Summer Weather

Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat


It’s the peak of summer, and the temperature is soaring. If you’re planning to work out outdoors, it’s essential to take precautions to stay safe and comfortable in the heat. Not only will this help you avoid heat-related illnesses, but it will also ensure an enjoyable and productive exercise session.

Melanie McNeal, the physical and occupational therapy manager in the Joseph Barnhart department of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, shared some valuable tips for exercising in the scorching summer heat.

Know Your Fitness Level and Begin with Caution

When exercising in the heat, it’s crucial to know your fitness level and adjust your workout accordingly. McNeal advises starting slow, especially if you’re not accustomed to exercising in the heat. Your tolerance to the heat will be lower, and pushing yourself too hard can have adverse effects. Begin with moderate intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity as you acclimate to the heat.

Stay Hydrated and Take Frequent Breaks

Hydration is paramount when working out in hot weather. McNeal emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated throughout your exercise routine. She suggests bringing along more water than you anticipate needing and having at least 40 to 60 ounces of water for a one-hour workout. Remember, if you sweat excessively, you may need even more water to replenish your fluids adequately.

Additionally, taking frequent breaks to hydrate is crucial. This not only helps keep your body cool but also prevents the risk of dehydration. Make it a habit to sip water during breaks and avoid waiting until you feel thirsty, as by then, your body is already dehydrated.

Optimize Your Workout Attire

Wearing the right clothing can make a significant difference in staying comfortable during your summer workouts. McNeal suggests choosing lightweight, light-colored clothing that wicks away sweat to help keep you cool. On the other hand, dark-colored and heavy material can make you feel even hotter and aggravate sweating.

To further enhance your comfort, consider using a cooling towel. This simple accessory can effectively lower your body temperature. Throughout your workout, place the cooling towel behind your neck, under your arms, and on your forehead to maximize its cooling effect.

Protect Your Skin and Prevent Sunburn

Exercising outdoors means you’ll be exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s essential to protect your skin by applying sunscreen before heading outside. Sunburn can interfere with your body’s ability to cool itself, leading to increased discomfort and potential health risks. Make sunscreen a part of your pre-workout routine and reapply as needed, especially if you sweat profusely.

Choose Activities Wisely

Different activities have varying levels of impact on your body’s hydration. Sports that involve heavy equipment, such as football, tend to be particularly dehydrating. Similarly, continuous movement sports like long-distance running and soccer can also increase the amount of water you lose through sweating. However, don’t let these considerations deter you from participating in your favorite outdoor activities; simply take the necessary precautions.

Swimming is an excellent exercise option for all ages, but even it can contribute to dehydration, depending on factors such as water temperature, distance, time, and intensity. McNeal advises taking frequent breaks while swimming and replenishing your fluids with water or electrolyte drinks to compensate for the water lost through sweat, even though you may not realize it while in the water.

Heat-related illnesses can be serious and require immediate attention. It’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs and act accordingly. If you experience muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, excessive sweating, low blood pressure, or vision disturbances, stop exercising immediately. Move to a cooler area to allow your body temperature to decrease, and hydrate with fluids and electrolytes. Seek medical assistance if symptoms persist or worsen.

Explore Indoor Exercise Alternatives

In extreme heat or if outdoor conditions are unsuitable, it’s wise to consider indoor exercise options. McNeal suggests visiting the gym or participating in fitness classes. Alternatively, you can utilize smartphone apps or online membership platforms that offer a vast range of guided workouts. Even with minimal or no equipment, exercising using your body weight can be highly effective.

Don’t let the summer heat prevent you from maintaining your fitness routine. By following these tips, you can exercise safely and enjoyably, no matter the weather. Stay active, stay hydrated, and stay mindful of your body’s signals. Have a fantastic workout!

Additional Resources

For more tips on dealing with extreme heat, visit

SOURCES: Baylor College of Medicine, news release, July 12, 2023

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