Things to Keep in Mind When Exercising Outdoors in the Heat

Well, if the past few weeks are any sign of what’s to come, we’re in for a scorching summer!  As we can all agree, Summer is a coveted time in Edmonton.  Long days, hot weather and lots of sunshine!  Many Edmontonians love to take advantage of the warm weather during the summer by bringing their exercise routines outside or looking for new ways to get active outdoors.

Even though it feels great to be outside in the heat after our long winters, there are a few things that you should be aware of.  We have put together some points that you should consider before taking your exercise routine outdoors.

woman hot with thermometer beside
woman hot with water bottle

Time of Day

  • Avoid exercising in the heat of the day. Exercising in the heat puts extra stress on the body to keep itself cool.  In an attempt to cool down, your body will circulate more blood through your skin, which leaves less blood for your muscles and forces your heart to work harder.  This blood circulation can eventually lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • As well, levels of UV radiation increase as the sun gets higher in the sky (late morning to early evening), increasing the potency of harmful UV rays (for more info, click here).
  • Early morning is often best for any strenuous workout.

Stay Hydrated

  • Be sure to drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • You’ll be sweating more in the heat, so you must increase your water intake to balance the amount of liquids you lose.
  • Drink frequently, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty!
  • Restore your electrolytes, especially after around 60 minutes of exercise, when your body depletes vital electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
  • Consider a sports drink or a sports gel to help you replenish (for more information, click here).
  • Some signs of dehydration include:
    • Dry/sticky mouth,
    • Fatigue
    • Thirst
    • Weakness
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Muscle cramping

Start Slow and Pace Yourself

  • It is vital to start slow at first and let your body adjust to the change in temperature with any workout.
  • You may have to decrease the speed or time you exercise as your body responds differently to exercise in the heat compared to a cooler environment.
  • Take frequent breaks if necessary.

Dress Appropriately

  • Wear light-coloured and lightweight clothing.
  • Consider UV protective clothing for extra protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
  • The lighter colour will help reflect the heat.
  • Looser clothing will allow your skin to breathe and the air to circulate over your skin.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.

Listen to Your Body

  • Stop and seek shade if you feel light-headed, dizzy or nauseous.
  • If you are experiencing any signs of dehydration, rest in the shade and drink water immediately.

Find Shade When You Can

  • Try to find shaded, cool areas as much as possible to give yourself a break from the sun.
  • Plan your route or workout area to avoid areas open to the blazing sun.

Don't Forget Your Sunscreen

  • Make sure it is water-resistant or designed for sports.

Eat Snacks

  • Keep your body fuelled.
  • Choose foods with higher water content (fruits and vegetables) and avoid dry snacks.

Check the Forecast

  • If there is a heat advisory, keep your exercise indoors.
Man hot outside at the running track

Nagging Injury or Ache Keeping You From Exercising this Summer?

Please book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our five clinics in Edmonton, including RiverbendBelvedereNamao, or Southgate.

We’re here to help you, “Love Getting Better!”