4 Tips to Help You Exercise Safely in Extreme Heat

July 17, 2016

Summer is here in Arizona and it is hot, hot, hot! We love living here– most of the time our weather is beautiful, the sun shines almost every day, and we are surrounded by the beauty of nature. This time of year can be tough, though. Temperatures are consistently over 100 degrees and almost everyone stays indoors in the air conditioned cool. This can make staying fit a bit of a challenge. You can always go to the gym of course, but if you want to mix it up and get outdoors to exercise, you actually still can. You just need to make sure that do not underestimate the heat.

You absolutely must take proper precautions for physical activity in order to keep yourself and your body safe. If you have lived in the Valley of the Sun for a few years, you know that serious injuries and fatalities can occur when people who don’t adequately prepare to exercise in such extreme weather.

Even though braving the triple digit temperatures can be a bit unnerving, if you take the proper steps you can still safely exercise in extreme heat.

Follow these tips for exercising in the summer:

  1. Hydrate
  2. Dress properly
  3. Avoid direct sun
  4. Choose the right time

This is the number one thing you need to do. Even in cooler months, you will see Arizona natives consuming plenty of water. Our climate is pretty dry year round. In the summer, staying hydrated is even more important due to the high temperatures. Many people will fill a large jug of water (with 64 ounces or more) early in the day and make sure that they have consumed the entire thing by nightfall. A good rule to remember is, “don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink”. When you work out, make sure you drink water before, during, and after exercising. If you will be hiking, bring more water than you think you will need. Unfortunately, people who have not followed this rule have paid dearly for it. After your workout snacks like chocolate milk, olives, seaweed, bananas, leafy green vegetables, yogurts, nuts, and nut butters will all supply electrolytes and help your body recover more quickly.

Shorts and tank tops are a must during this time of year and you want to wear clothing that will help keep you cool.Loose fitting clothes in light colors will be your best friend during this time of year. Allowing air to circulate will assist in maintaining your body temperature and prevent you from getting over heated. Always avoid dark colors since they absorb more heat. Lighter colors will do a better job of reflecting heat. Some workout clothing lines even have dry fit technology to keep them from becoming drenched in sweat and sticking to your body. If you will be outdoors, a sunhat or baseball cap (in a light color) is a must as is sunblock.

If you can find a shady spot to work out, you should definitely do so! Even though finding a place to run or hike that is filled with shade is difficult, there are some areas that have more shade than others. There are parks and trails where you can find shade all around the Valley. Exercising in the direct sun is not a good idea and you should probably avoid it. And of course, hats, visors, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all necessities for summer workouts.

It’s nice to do a spontaneous hike, run, or bike ride but during the summer it is not a good idea. When the weather gets hot, you will want to plan your workouts ahead of time and do them during a time of day when it is cooler. The hottest times of the day are between noon and 4 pm, and the best time to tackle your workout will be in the early morning hours, or later in the evening. If you will be running or cycling after the sun has set, make sure to wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight for additional safety.

Again, it is not impossible to stay fit when the weather gets hot and if you adequately prepare, you can still work out. No matter what, make sure that you let someone know where you are going and an approximate time that you will return. Carry a cell phone just in case and make sure you get approval from your doctor to exercise. If you follow the four tips above, you can stay in shape–even when it is 105 degrees!