Woman takes water break on her bike ride during hot summer day

Your Health, Primary Care | 10 months ago

Top Tips for Exercising in the Heat

Exercising in high temperatures can be dangerous. These tips can help prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion, ensuring a safe and successful workout.

At Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute Sports Medicine and Injury Care, we see a lot of patients looking to take control of their own wellness and make an overall lifestyle change, and one of the most important steps in that process is developing an exercise routine that works for you. With warmer temperatures this season, it’s important to exercise safely. Below are a few tips to keep in mind:

Hydration is key

Always remember to hydrate before, during and after exercise! Especially in extreme heat, the importance of staying hydrated cannot be stressed enough. You should always begin your exercise well-hydrated and continue to drink water throughout your workouts. Drink cool water when possible – your body absorbs it faster.

Remember, sports drinks can be consumed in moderation, but steer clear of juice and sodas. If you plan to exercise intensely or work out for a prolonged period of time, consider a sports drink in addition to water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium electrolytes you lose through sweating.

Don't rely on thirst as a signal that you're dehydrated 

Feeling thirsty is not the best indicator of whether you need to drink more water. Thirst occurs after your body is already dehydrated and is satisfied before your water supply is fully replaced. This means you should constantly be hydrating, regardless of how you feel.

Determine the best time to exercise

Choosing the best time of day to workout is imperative to your health and safety. To avoid the hottest parts of the day and for maximum sun protection, try exercising in the morning or evening. These times of day offer duel benefit such as beginning your morning with a jog or walk to increase your endorphins or yoga in the evening to wind down.

Get used to the heat

Give yourself at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat, especially if you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts.

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Choose breathable and lightweight workout attire, which will allow air to better circulate during your workout while permitting sweat to evaporate more easily. This type of clothing can also protect your skin from sun exposure, which can lead to sun damage, skin irritation, breakouts or heat rashes. 

Know your limits

If you're feeling out of shape or are new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks. Don’t go overboard! If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, confused or have trouble breathing, stop immediately to rest. Listen to your body – it will tell you when you’re pushing yourself too hard.

David Price, MD is a Sports Medicine Physician at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute Sports Medicine and Injury Care – Randolph and Program Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Atrium Health. Dr. Price specializes in sports concussion, running and endurance injuries, ultrasound guided musculoskeletal procedures and cardiac and sports pre-participation screening.

Learn more about sports medicine and injury care at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute.