Run safely during a heat wave

July 2, 2013

A heat wave has been baking the southwestern United States, with temperatures in some areas reaching nearly 130 degrees. According to NPR, triple-digits temps in that area of the country will likely persist through the end of the week, which means that anyone planning to exercise during this record-breaking heat wave will need to take extra precautions.

1. Work out indoors
Exercising outside during a heat wave can be extremely dangerous, possibly putting you at risk for heat stroke. To avoid the whole argument with yourself about whether or not you should skip your workout, why not move you run indoors? By running on your home treadmill, you can get just as effective of a workout in as you would if you were outside, and you don’t have to worry about the augmented danger of overheating. You can even program in a custom workout to recreate the inclines you would have had to navigate if you were outside.

2. Hydrate
Hydration is always important when exercising, but it’s paramount during a heat wave. If you plan on exercising for an hour or less, drink plenty of water to make sure you don’t become dehydrated. However, if your running route has you outside for more than an hour, you may want to take a sports drink along to replenish your electrolytes. Just make sure you don’t overdo it – too much water consumption can lead to hyponatremia. Listen to your body, and replenish your fluids by taking a few swigs every 20 minutes or so.

3. Run in the morning
During a heat wave, it’s important to time your workout so you’re not outside during the hottest part of the day, i.e., right around noon to 4 p.m. Morning is the coolest, so try to get a jog in before work if you can. Otherwise, you may want to wait until after the sun goes down before you hit the pavement – just make sure to wear reflective gear and take a running buddy with you for safety.

4. Go slow
When it’s hot outside, don’t expect to be able to push your body as hard as you normally would. The intensity of your exercise has a bearing on your internal temperature, so slowing down your running pace can help you stay cool.

5. Dress accordingly
If you plan to take your fitness routine outside during the summer, opt for light-colored material that breathes and, ideally, has high-SPF built in. Make sure the materials you’re wearing are not impermeable to water (i.e. cotton) because it can prevent the evaporation of sweat from your skin, which is your body’s natural way of cooling itself off.