Spinach pasta with basil and feta.
Lisa M Baragiola

Heat Management Strategies

Exercising in the Heat

Summer has arrived in St. Louis and we’re experiencing hot days. Exercising in the heat puts extra stress on our bodies to increase its cooling system. Heat isn’t the only stressor, there is also humidity and dew point. When the air is humid, it feels warmer than the actual temperature because our sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly. Dew point is the point at which droplets of moisture can form on objects like grass or windows. The higher the dew point, the muggier and more uncomfortable it may feel. Does this mean we’re all confined to indoor activities?  If you love being outside, utilize strategies to make it more tolerable.

Hot Weather Strategies

First and foremost, give your body time to acclimate in the heat, preferably 10 to 14 days of exposure to warmer conditions. Spend at least 60 to 90 minutes per day so your body starts to adapt and cool itself sooner. Choose the time of day wisely, either early morning or in the evening when the sun goes down. Look for a shaded route whenever it’s possible, since it makes a huge difference.  Two of my favorites are the Katy Trail and the Meramec Greenway: Greentree Park to Arnolds Grove Park.

Make thoughtful clothing choices that will result in more comfort. Purchase light weight, sweat absorbent, quick drying, breathable fabrics in light colors that reflect the heat. Wearing a visor can keep the sun off your face. If you prefer a hat, wet it and your hair with cold water to help stay cool.

Hydrate before, during and after outdoor activities. If you walk, run or cycle, carry water bottles or use a hydration vest. When there is extra water, don’t be afraid to pour it on yourself. Experiment using electrolytes or sports drinks to replace sweat loss. Avoid exercising on an empty stomach because our bodies need extra energy to cool down in the heat.

Finally, adjust expectations during workouts. Focus on effort, not pace, slow down, shorten your run or bike ride if necessary. For instance, watch the forecast and plan longer runs on better weather days. Stay active and safe!!!!

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