Are you headed outdoors for some activity or a workout but are already dreading it because of the heat? I don’t blame you! Sometimes you want to get outside for all of the additional benefits nature bestows, but how do you stay cool and beat the heat?
Go ahead and grab a nice iced beverage, and enjoy these tips that will help you face the hot weather as well as recognize what happens when you get too hot, the danger signs when you’re overheated, and how to avoid getting to that point. Let’s get to it.
Hot, Hot, or Too Hot?
When you’re outdoors in the heat and you exert yourself, it’s normal for your body to sweat to release the extra heat. However, did you know that once your body is depleted of fluids, you actually stop sweating and your core temperature can start to rise? This is a scary situation and, understandably, can cause a host of dangerous health issues. It’s important to know when to get out of the heat and to recognize the symptoms that mean you’re on your way to becoming overheated.
Heed the Warning Signs!
It’s important to use common sense and be aware of warning signs. If you, or a friend, experience any of these signs, then it’s time to head indoors. Give yourself about twenty minutes to cool down before attempting to go out again. If these symptoms don’t subside within that timeframe, then you may need to head to a healthcare professional to be treated for heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
- Low blood pressure
- Racing heart
- No longer sweating
14 Ways to Beat the Heat
Now that we got that important info out of the way, here are 14 tips to help you keep your cool (and beat the heat).
- Adapt to outdoor heat over time—take it slowly and allow your body a week or two to adjust to the temperatures outside. That means, don’t do every workout outside this week. Try doing just one or two outdoor workouts and keep the rest inside in an air-conditioned environment.
- Gradually increase your time outdoors—it’s not the best idea to jump into a full-length workout like what you’d normally do indoors. When you’re outside in the elements, conditions are different, and that means a different approach. Take it slow and keep it short, ramping up to longer periods over time.
- Stay hydrated—that means not only drinking water, but replenishing your electrolytes as well. By the way, boozing it up is not helpful when it comes to staying hydrated. Even caffeine can rob you of fluids, so stay aware of what you’re drinking and throw in some drinks with electrolytes, like a sports drink. Just be sure to watch the calorie count as they can add up. You should have at least a cup of water before and after an outdoor workout in the heat and as many as 3 cups of water during an hour-long workout, just to maintain normal hydration and beat the heat.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing—and avoid wearing dark colors if you’re going to be in the sun. Typically, cotton and linen are great fabrics to wear in the heat.
- Enjoy a spritzer—nope, not the wine kind. I mean spraying your face and body occasionally with cool water. This can be an effective way to beat the heat and is especially beneficial with a breeze or outdoor fan.
- Burn the candle at both ends—that is, work out in the morning and/or in the evening, two cooler parts of the day.
- Don’t overdo it—you might be able to do more on a typical day indoors than you can outside in the heat. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it easier than you normally would.
- Throw shade—stay in the shade if at all possible and out of direct sun.
- Check your meds—medication can cause you to overheat more easily than you normally might.
- Employ fans—fans are a good way to stay cool, and you can even bring one with you if you opt for the portable variety. (See #5 as some portable fans employ mist as well.)
- Cold compress—if you have some ice packs on hand, you can use those to cool down, but if not, try wetting and freezing washcloths to put around your neck when outdoors.
- Enjoy the pool—now might be a good time to take your workout to the pool, where you’ll naturally be cooler. Just be aware, you can still overexert yourself in the pool, especially if the water is hot, so keep an eye on how you’re feeling. Also, be sure to wear waterproof sunscreen and reapply often.
- Use sunscreen—it may not keep you cooler today, but if you get burned today and have to exercise tomorrow, a sunburn will only exacerbate the heat issues.
- Eat juicy foods—fruits and veggies that have a high water content (like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and zucchinis) are your friends this summer. You’ll gain important nutrients as well as hydrate when you include these in your nutrition plan.
Lastly, if you do begin to feel overheated or start to notice some of the warning signs of overheating we discussed above, use common sense. Get out of the heat, and if necessary, seek medical attention.