Staying Cool in Outdoor Workouts

Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding on How to Beat the Heat

Summer is a great time to re-energize your fitness routine. Many people enjoy the rising temperatures because it means getting out of the gym and into nature. But as mid-summer approaches, the heat can have detrimental effects on your workout. In this article, Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding suggests the best ways to keep your cool while exercising outdoors this summer.

How High Temperatures Affect Your Body

Whether you’re just beginning a fitness regimen or you’re well-entrenched in your routine, the heat can take its toll on you. Exercising in the heat forces your blood out towards your skin, where it gets cooled. This pulls blood from your muscles and lowers the amount of blood your heart pumps each time. The result is added stress to your body in the form of difficulty breathing, elevated core temperature and fatigue.

5 Ways to Help Keep Your Cool in the Heat

  1. Begin gradually – As the summer begins, don’t jump into the heat right away. It can take around two weeks to safely get acclimated to the higher temperatures. Begin with 10-15 minutes of walking or bicycling outdoors to get your body used to the heat. Gradually increase the minutes added to your routine.
  2. Examine your water intake – If you’re waiting until you begin exercising to drink water, you’re waiting too long. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding recommends drinking ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound daily. Exercise increases the need for water, so develop good water habits and bring a bottle with you outside. Remember, water is the best way to hydrate. Sports drinks contain many calories and artificial ingredients.
  3. Avoid mid-day workouts – Experts say to limit sun exposure when exercising outside. The best way to do this is to go in the early morning or later in the evening. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding says to stay in shaded areas or do a water workout if you have access to a pool.
  4. Choose your gear carefully – The best clothing for hot workouts is made of fabric that breathes. Many tops even include mesh ventilation to keep you cool. Avoid cotton t-shirts that could make you feel hotter than you need to be. Stock up on clothing made of synthetic fabrics designed for exercise, like micro-fibers, polyesters and ultra-thin wool.
  5. Ice to the rescue – You don’t have to be an athlete to use ice creatively in your workouts. Not only will it keep your water cold, but try out an icy neck bandana or even a cooling vest.

Know When to Say When

Finally, it’s important to know what is too hot for you. Know the signs you or a loved one may be in danger. You could require medical attention if you push yourself too hard in the summer heat. Stop working out immediately and go indoors if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat

Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, NYU Langone Weight Management ProgramFinally, remember that even short workouts are beneficial. Vary your schedule if you can, and you can experience the best of outdoor and indoor workouts in the summer. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding also reminds her patients to always wear sunscreen.

Consultations with Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding

If you or a loved one would like to learn about your weight loss options including bariatric surgery, consult an expert. Contact Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding at the NYU Langone Weight Management Program.

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