Training in the outdoors during the hot summer months is more challenging than working out during the cooler spring and fall months. As the heat and humidity increase, your overall performance tends to decrease. This is largely due to the fact that the body, on the physiological level, does not function as well.
The body sweats more, which translates to dehydration. In addition, the heart rate is much higher and blood flow is reduced. As a result, less oxygen is getting to the muscles. Sweating cannot be helped while working out, especially outdoors in summertime.
Sweat is the body's own natural air conditioning system to help cool down the body. The sweat removes excess heat from within the body. As the sweat evaporates, it cools. However, the rate of evaporation is directly related to the humidity levels. Higher humidity means slower evaporation and less cooling.
With sweating also comes dehydration, because the body is losing water, salt, and electrolytes. Further complicating matters is an increase in heart rate. Normally it will increase about four beats per minute when working out at temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature continues to climb, heart rates can increase 10 beats or more per minute, with increases in humidity further contributing to even higher heart rates.
In addition, as sweat is released, the volume of blood flow declines, too. This means there is less blood returning to the heart and lungs to get oxygen and supply that oxygen to your muscles. Since the muscles are getting less oxygen, they cannot produce as much energy, so you will notice a slowdown in your workout routine. However, exercising outdoors in hot summer days does have its benefits.
Mainly, your endurance levels and performance will increase as your body acclimates to working out in this type of environment. Even still, there are several precautions you should take, along with these tips to ensure a safe workout:
- Keep hydrated. Drink a few glasses of water before starting your routine, and take along plenty of water. Remember to drink a little water about every fifteen minutes, as well as few more glasses of water afterwards.
- Avoid the hottest times of the day. It is best to avoid working out from around 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., as this is when it is hottest. Try to fit your routines in either before or after this time.
- Remember to protect your skin. Wear a high SPF rated sunscreen that is waterproof to protect your skin, even on cloudy and overcast days.
- Wear light colored, breathable clothing. Light colors reflect heat, and breathable clothing helps keep you cooler.
- Replenish lost electrolytes and salt after workouts. Eat sports nutrition bars and drink water infused with electrolytes to restore the proper levels.