By Jessica Smith, with additional reporting by Alison Chang
This article first appeared on the U.S.-version of SHAPE.com
One: Train Your Body to Handle the Heat
Taking your 30-minute run to the nearby park in blazing hot weather isn’t at all a good idea. Start with 10- to 15-minute doses of outdoor exercises and try to avoid heading out during peak temperature and humidity (from 1p.m. to 5p.m.) says Michelle Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in the U.S. Gradually increase your workout time over the next 10 to 14 days to ensure your body safely acclimates.
Two: Drink Up (and Not Just Water)
Staying hydrated is important, but it’s especially crucial when working out in warmer temps. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and anxiety, while severe dehydration causes fever, shriveled skin and even unconsciousness (scary!). How to check if you’re well hydrated? Peek into the toilet. If your urine is dark in colour and/or has an odour, chances are you need to up your water intake.
Olson suggests downing 235ml of H2O about 20 minutes before an outdoor workout and then another 235ml every 15 to 20 minutes during your session. To refuel your body after a super sweaty run, head to a happy hour!
According to researchers at University of Granada in Spain, beer may help re-hydrate your body after a workout better than water, as it quenches thirst faster and the carbohydrates replenishes the body with calories lost. But be warned: beer is high in calories so limit yourself to 470ml or less to avoid cancelling out your workout.
Three: Outsmart Sports Bra Chafing
Training for a race? Don’t give skin irritations the chance to hold you back! If you’re prone to heat rash or chafing, try using a powder deodorant spray on sensitive spots such as underarms, cleavage and inner thighs. For longer runs, consider wearing your sports bra over a thin, moisture-wicking, seamless tank, suggests certified personal trainer Teri Jory, Ph.D.
Four: Dress Right
“Wear breathable, lightweight and light-coloured workout attire that permits your sweat to evaporate, and include a cap or some sort of sun-blocking apparel,” says Olson. Not only will these type of materials help you to stay cooler during your workout, but they can help you avoid skin irritation, breakouts, or heat rashes. Look for words like “breathable”, “moisture-wicking” and “mesh” on the label to up your chances of staying cool, dry and comfortable.
Five: Don’t Forget to Protect Your Stems
Research shows that the lower leg is one of the most common areas women develop skin cancer, says Lara Hudson, a certified fitness expert and star of the 10-Minute Solution: Tighten and Tone Pilates DVD. Other commonly missed spots include the ears, scalp and backs of your neck and legs. So be vigilant about wearing sunscreen on every exposed skin cell.
Six: Reverse Your Training Order
Training for a triathlon? Switch up the order of activities based on when you’ll feel warmest first. For example, if you’re heading out later in the day, starting with a swim will help keep you cool during cycling and running. For morning sessions, start with running and biking so that you’ll end up in the water later, when it’s much hotter.
Seven: Keep Salty Snack on Hand
In warmer temps, salt depletion can contribute to heat exhaustion, especially when we re-hydrate but don’t replace the salt lost through water, says Peggy Hall, a nutritional therapist and wellness expert. “Sodium and potassium are the main minerals that make up the electrolytes, which regulates fluid balance,” she says.
One ounce of olives, salted nuts or pumpkin seeds are all great options to quickly replenish your sodium levels, but the best power snack is combining both sodium and potassium. Try one cup of plain, low-fat yogurt (172mg sodium, 573mg potassium) topped with 28g of pumpkin seed or a banana (422mg potassium) with a handful of nuts (87mg sodium per ounce).
Eight: Pre-plan Your Route
Planning your running route before your head outdoors is always a good idea for safety and training tracking, but it will also help you plot crucial water refills, says Liz Neporent, a board member of the American Council on Exercise and co-author of The Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan. There’s even a smartphone app: Map-My-Run to pinpoint crucial watering holes before hitting the pavements again, says Neporent.
Nine: Practice Pre-cooling
Take a cold shower or drink an icy beverage just before your workout to combat the debilitating effects of high heat – and maybe even boost your performance. A recent review of similar pre-cooling methods found that they clearly improved athletes’ performance in a laboratory setting, suggesting that these techniques could be beneficial for outdoor exercisers in hot environmental conditions.
Ten: Listen to Your Body
Even if you take great precautions, you may still be at risk for overheating, so don’t forget to listen to your body. If you begin to feel nauseous, dizzy, cold and clammy, or have trouble breathing, stop immediately and rest, says Kim Truman, a certified personal trainer and outdoor athletic coach. Always carry your handphone with you (in case of an emergency), as heat exhaustion can sneak up on your quickly, she says.