Stay Cool During Hot Workouts
Your workout might be on fire, but you don’t have to be.
During the summer, you’ll often see me lacing up my running shoes and heading out the door when the temperature gauge reads 85 or even 90 degrees. I’m also the same person who regularly takes boot camp-style classes in a 95-degree hot yoga studio. I personally love to work out in the heat, with the sun shining on my sweat-drenched skin.
But I’m also not Superwoman. I, like anybody, have physical limits when it comes to heat. Sure, I’d like to be able to say that I’m invincible and I’ve never experienced a bit of heat exhaustion, but that wouldn’t be the case. Our bodies are designed to protect us when high temperatures become too much for us.
I’ll still get out and run on the hot days, but over the years, I’ve learned to take certain precautions before a balmy workout. My run is usually vastly improved when I do these things, and my body feels a lot better, too.
These are the five things that keep me cool during toasty summer runs, tips that can translate to any type of outdoor summer workout. Whether you choose to run, paddle board, hike, or do yoga in your backyard, these tricks will make working out a breeze — at least when it comes to your body temperature and comfort.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I used to only drink water when I returned from a hot run. I know, rookie mistake. When we’re thirsty, that often means that our bodies are already dehydrated, and I was parched beyond belief when I came back from those runs.
To combat dehydration, I now drink up before heading out for my run. This includes guzzling at least one Nalgene bottle-full of water, and I like to drink a coconut water before I leave as well. Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes, which our bodies need to function properly and can be easily lost through the skin in hot and humid weather.
The moral of the story? Drink water long before starting your warm-weather workout.
Start Early If You Can
I love an early-morning run, and it’s especially good timing during the summer. If you can, get in your outdoor workout right before the sun comes up, otherwise known as the coolest part of the day. Because when the sun is officially up, get ready for much higher temperatures and UV rays beating on your skin, things that can seriously take the joy out of a summer workout.
Invest in Cooling Products
This summer, I’ve started to experiment with products that have cooling properties, like a cooling towel and cooling headbands. I’ve had good luck with both. There’s also cooling fitness clothing and hats out there; decide which products work best with the types of workouts you do and give them a try. You can also turn to cooling personal care products when you work out, like a fresh, cooling deodorant.
If you want to try an all-natural method to cool down without buying any new products, put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on your body before starting your workout. I like to put the oil on the back of my neck right as I walk out the door — just be sure to not put the oil anywhere on your face. Sweat + peppermint oil = stinging eyes!
Take the Shady Route
When I know I’m embarking on a particularly hot and sunny run, I’ll try to choose a route that I know is mostly in shade. This can include a wooded trail or even a neighborhood where I can occasionally duck under the shade of small trees and houses. Pick a workout destination where you’re guaranteed opportunities to rest in the shade when needed.
Don’t Be a Perfectionist
It’s a proven fact that generally, bodies that work out in hot weather can’t perform as well as they usually do. And that’s perfectly OK. When I run on a sizzling summer day, I know that my times will be slower, and I’ll have to take more breaks.
Here’s what I think: if you head out for a workout, any kind of workout, on a warm day (as long as it’s safe to do so), you should be proud of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over a slower pace, walking here and there, or even stopping completely to stand in the shade. These are smart moves that will make your workout safer and a lot more comfortable for you. A hot summer day is not the time to set new records.
Instead, throw your perfectionism out, feel the breeze against your skin and the sun on your (sunscreened) face, and simply soak up the beauty of summer.