Fitness Articles

Tips for Exercising in Heat

Stay Safe and Stay Hydrated

The body dissipates heat 4 ways:
  1. Conduction – heat transfer from one solid object to another. The transfer is always from the warmer object to the cooler object.
  2. Radiation – the loss of heat in the form of infrared rays
  3. Convection – heat transfer from the body to the surrounding air. Air temperature must be cooler than skin temperature in order for this to occur. Wind is a good example.
  4. Evaporation – sweat from the skin results in heat loss by the body.*
If the body isn't accustomed to warm weather exercises, it takes approximately 10-14 days of exercise in those conditions in order to fully acclimate yourself.

Your body's “temperature regulation center,” called the hypothalamus, adjusts during this period. Changes during this period include sweat rate increases, sweating begins earlier, better distribution of sweat over the whole body, sweat becomes hypotonic (less salty), and blood volume increases.

*Sweating during exercise is very important and a great benefit to body temperature regulation, provided the sweat can evaporate easily. Be careful during hot and humid conditions because there is so much moisture in the air that it’s hard for your sweat to evaporate and your body temperature can raise quickly. The average person has between 2-4 million sweat glands throughout the surface of our bodies.

Some things to think about during hot weather exercise:
  • Don't expect peak performance – your heart works harder and not as much blood is delivered to the working muscles.
  • Clothing should be loose and absorbent, light in color to reflect heat.
  • Drink water during, before and after exercise.
  • You only need electrolyte replacement drinks (Gatorade/Powerade) if you are performing long term exercise (90-plus minutes).
  • Use sunscreen – not oil based or suntan oil.

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Member Comments

  • Also I'd say pay attention to your electrolyte levels! If you notice your sweat is 'saltier' than normal, make sure your diet is putting those minerals back!
  • Other tips would include wearing a hat and sunglasses, along with carrying water bottle to drink water part-way through the work-out to avoid dehydration - especially in areas where I live because we have 0-10% humidity. There are many times though where drinking water is so important during the workout, not just before and after - such as when playing baseball. Unfortunately I have to be very careful in the heat because I do not sweat. My body struggles to regulate core temp and I can over-heat very quickly. I am aware of this and tend to avoid working out in the mid-day. I usually head out in the late evening when it cools down.
  • Have to say, living in Arizona, I am VERY FAMILIAR with HEAT!!! I have to get out EARLY to beat it. I take my 24 oz. camel back container with ice water, AND ice, and hit the trails where I kNOW there is more shade than sun. Even early, it is hot. BUT I am acclimated!!! Guess that is good. Not alot of folk could exercise in the desert!
  • Thanks for this article.

About The Author

Lonnie Soloff Lonnie Soloff
Lonnie has a master's degree in physical therapy and is the head physical therapist for the Cleveland Indians.