Outdoor Workouts: How to Beat the Heat

Exercising in hot weather is a drag--literally! You start moving and after 10 minutes your brain temp rises, which may tell your body that you feel tired and slow before you actually are, explains Craig Crandall, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. It's your brain's way of saying, "Slow your roll before we get too cooked."

Then things get tougher: Your heart pumps faster and harder, working overtime to send blood to tired muscles and skin, where your sweat can cool it, says Mindy Millard-Stafford, Ph.D., exercise physiologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. That's why you're feeling drained. Now, here's how to beat the heat.

Keep your cool

Resist the AC. Though that air-conditioned Spin room looks pretty tempting, we suggest you skip it. Take your workouts outside and you can acclimate in two weeks. Start with 20 minutes and build gradually, Crandall says. You'll feel more comfortable after each session.

Go to happy hour(s). You know a midday bout in prime sun is a silly idea, so plot your workouts before 6 a.m. or after 8 p.m. (sunrise and sunset), when it can be up to 20 degrees cooler. Shade is your friend, too. You may feel an instant 15-degree drop.

Strip down. You see them all the time: runners in long-sleeved tech tees on blazing days. Light-colored performance fabrics work best, but lose the sleeves. "Exposing more skin allows heat to escape, so your body regulates your temperature," Millard-Stafford says.

Rethink your run. We know it's the ultimate calorie sizzler, but on a scorcher, pick a workout with a built-in refreshment factor, like biking (wind in your hair!), swimming, or Rollerblading. All still torch cals.

Don't only drink water if you’re working out outside for more than an hour. Grab a sports drink--don’t worry, there are low-cal options. It offers carbs for sustained energy and salt (to replace what you’ve lost through sweat), plus electrolytes that help your stomach absorb fluid faster to keep you hydrated and less likely to bonk. Sip 25 to 30 ounces every hour.

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