How to Avoid Heat Stress While Exercising

By Sarah Dray

You don't need to stop exercising outdoors when summer comes around, but you do need to make some adjustments in order to remain safe . Heat stress is particularly dangerous in desert areas and for older people and kids, but everybody should take a few precautions in order to ensure their safety while exercising in hot weather.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Make drinking a priority. Water is better, but sport drinks are fine if you're going on a strenuous hike or jog; the added sugar of the drinks will provide a good burst of energy to help you keep going. As a general rule, you should be drinking eight ounces of water for every 20 minutes you spend exercising in the heat. This is true even if you don't feel thirsty.
Step 2
Start slowly. In high temperatures, you might need to adjust the intensity or the length of your workout to avoid getting overheated. Taking breaks and using the off time to stretch is also a good option. Exercising early in the morning or late in the evening is another way to avoid the highest temperatures of the day.
Step 3
Cover your head and wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in soft colors so your skin can breathe. Choose natural fibers as they absorb perspiration better. When taking breaks, remove your hat to allow heat from your body to escape. If you feel yourself getting too hot, pour water over your head to cool down.
Step 4
Pay attention to your body. Signs of heat stress include throbbing headaches, dizziness, lack of balance, nausea, high body temperature, no sweating (especially if you had been sweating up until then) and muscle cramps. People with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may experience heat stress faster or with more intensity. If you suffer from a health condition, talk to your doctor before exercising in the heat.
Step 5
Change your route to something with a steady terrain and lots of shade. If possible, exercise in parks or the countryside, as cement increases the environment's temperature and makes it harder to cool down. Cement is also harder on your joints and your heart, so you'll sweat more because of the added impact.
Step 6
Avoid heavy foods, including spicy dishes and lots of protein. Digestion generates heat and causes the body to slow down, making it harder to work effectively in hot weather. Coffee and alcohol dehydrate and should also be avoided before a workout.

Tips & Warnings

In excessive heat, concentrate on doing the best you can for that day rather than trying to beat your personal best. Train indoors if possible when the temperature is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
In excessive heat, concentrate on doing the best you can for that day rather than trying to beat your personal best.
Train indoors if possible when the temperature is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

About The Author

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications, including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.


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