YoIf the mention of a heat wave makes you want to hide from the great outdoors and curl up with a slushie in hand, you’re not alone. Getting from place to place in hot temperatures, let alone trying to exercise in them, can be daunting. But there is no need to fear. You can still do outdoor exercises like walking in most temperatures, provided you have the proper preparation and approach. (Hint: It’s all about consuming your favorite non-caffeinated cold drink.)
And there’s good reason to hit the pavement even when it’s hot enough to fry an egg: It’s a known fact that walking outside has many positive benefits for the body, from increased blood flow to the brain to better cardiorespiratory fitness or a greater sense of well-being. overall happiness and better mental health.
But going on your “hot girl walk” when it’s hot can lead to a significant, and sometimes dangerous, rise in your body temperature. “People are at risk of getting dehydrated because they sweat so easily,” says Lee Scott, a Toronto-based walking coach and founder of WoW Power Walking. And, he adds, core temperatures can reach potentially unhealthy levels.
“Exercising in temperatures above 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit can increase the risk of heat exhaustion, which occurs when the body is unable to maintain adequate blood flow to all organs. and the skin for thermoregulation at the same time,” Heather Milton, CSCS, a board-certified clinical exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Center for Sports Performance, previously told Well+Good. Signs of heat exhaustion to watch for Considerations include excessive fatigue, fainting, and not feeling able to exercise any longer.
So how can you safely maintain your 10,000 daily steps (or however many you want)? Scott, co-author of The walking solution, shared with Well+Good some tips that can help make walking in the heat more bearable. Before you grab your Airpods and dive into your daily dose of vitamin D, here are a few things to know.
1. Try to walk early in the morning or late at night
“I always recommend people get out early in the day, and I think that’s common advice among sportspeople before all the smog builds up,” says Scott. Not only is it cooler, but the air quality is often better first thing in the morning. If you can’t hike right off the bat, hiking at night when temperatures are cooler is also an option.
2. Choose your path wisely
This may seem like common sense, but it can really make a difference: Walk on a path or path that has shady areas. If you’re in a city, walk along a tree-lined avenue or between tall buildings that offer shade from the sun. A smart strategy is to go somewhere with stores; In this way, you can turn on the air conditioning for a few minutes if necessary. For people who live in a suburban or rural area, choose a trail that has plenty of shaded areas and places to hydrate (such as public water fountains in a park).
If you’re not comfortable anywhere outdoors, don’t rule out an indoor mall, which will allow you to stay inside the air conditioning and avoid UV rays while doing so.
3. Keep your head and face cool
Keeping your head cool can help slow your body’s temperature rise as you walk. “I often wet my hat to keep cool,” says Scott. (This is a strategy that professional marathon runners also use.)
Studies show that cooling the head helps improve athletic performance and reduces fatigue after a workout. Intermittent facial cooling, such as facial misting, has also been found to improve endurance in hot environments. Try running cold water over your head every time you pass a water source or carry ice cold water that you can pour over yourself when it starts to get too hot.
Also, it can help keep your face out of the sun: wear a visor, sunglasses, or a hat.
4. Stay hydrated and get ready to sweat!
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: As you sweat, you need to replenish your body with fluids. On hot days, you should hydrate every 15 to 20 minutes with at least eight ounces of water when exercising in the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If there are no water sources on your route, take a bottle of water with you. And if you’re out there for a long time, or you know it’s a heavy sweater, consider adding electrolytes.
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5. Test pre- and post-chill
Before heading out into the hot temperatures, you can prepare your body by cooling down inside (ie standing in front of the air conditioner, maybe with a couple of ice packs) and drinking cold drinks like a slushie or milkshake. Research shows that these strategies can lower your body’s core temperature even once you begin to exercise, helping to improve your confidence and stamina as you push yourself in hot weather.
And don’t forget to cool down your body temperature after you’re done walking—Scott also suggests taking a cold shower after your workout, if possible.
6. Dress strategically
Try to wear light, breathable clothing in light colors that reflect the sun. Tight clothing can trap heat, and designs that allow room for skin-to-skin contact (like tank tops) can cause chafing, depending on your body, so try different styles until you find the one that’s most comfortable for you. . And stick with sweat-wicking socks—old-school cotton options can end up creating friction and leading to blisters. Lastly, Scott recommends choosing comfortable running shoes that have a mesh upper and a low heel profile.
7. Listen to your body
If at any point you start to feel excessively fatigued or feel like you can’t walk anymore, take a break. “If you feel the heat is too much, then you should stop walking and find a cool, shady spot to cool down or go inside,” Scott says. If you continue to progress, you could be at risk of heat stroke, which requires immediate medical attention.
8. Give yourself time to acclimatize
If you are new to walking or the temperatures have risen suddenly, remember that your body has to acclimate to the heat. Over the course of a few weeks, your body will gradually get used to walking in the heat. Start slowly with shorter walks at a reasonable pace. “Over time, you’ll be able to pick up your pace,” says Scott. “Trust what your body tells you in terms of speed.”
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