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Working out in the heat

Working out in the heat
Working out in the heat can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous to your health if you don’t take the right precautions. In this article I’ll discuss the dangers of getting too hot and what you can do to reduce your chances of suffering from any ill effects of getting hot and bothered when working out.

With summer fast approaching and myself feeling the heat this May day as I write this article, I wanted to write this for anyone working out in a hot climate or environment wherever you are in the world.

What happens when you get hot?

As your body temperature rises your heart rate rises as it has to work harder to push more blood around the body to help regulate your body’s temperature. The blood is pushed to the cooler areas close to the skin and often is shown as red patches/flushes. You will also then sweat more to help reduce your bodies temperature even more by transferring the heat out into the air. Sweating is a double edged sword, as you will lose minerals from your body, but it can also help remove unwanted toxins at the same time.

Dangers of working out in the heat

If you workout in the heat, there is a danger that you will raise your core temperature beyond where it should be.

For some people who have medical conditions and those who don’t for that matter this can be a problem with increased occurrences of muscle cramps, dizziness, fainting, increased blood pressure, weakness, headaches, heat rash, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

Heat rash (prickly heat, milaria, cholinergic urticaria)

This can be created when your sweat glands ducts become blocked. Often you will get a rash with red bumps on the skin, which may feel itchy. Mostly this is occurrence is harmless and doesn’t cause any issues and will normally go away after a while. If however you continue to have an issue from heat rash, seek medical advice.

Heat exhaustion from exercise

This is when your body’s temperature starts to rise above normal. When you suffer from this you may feel nauseous, faint, weak, get dizzy, have a rapid heart rate, be very thirsty, have aching muscles or muscle cramps, vomit, sweat profusely, have low blood pressure, lose coordination and you can actually feel cold and clammy.

If you suffer from heat exhaustion, stop working out, find somewhere cool, drink some water, lay down and raise your feet up above your head level and get as cool as you can. Take and monitor your temperature. Seek medical advice if you continue to not feel good or your temperature won’t go down.

Heatstroke from exercise

This can occur if heat exhaustion happens and is not treated and is potentially very dangerous and can even cause death. Your body temperature increases even more and your cooling system can fail, you may feel much of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, but your skin will be hot and dry and you will find it difficult to breath, your blood pressure will also rise even further, you may also feel agitated, confused and disorientated. You can also become unconsciousness or end up in a coma. You can also suffer numerous serious medical complications.

It is important that if you find someone suffering these symptoms to get them immediate medical attention to avoid permanent health issues or even death.

How to workout in the heat

There are several steps you can take to help with dealing with hot weather workouts (these are in no particular order):

  • Drink plenty of water to stay dehydrated before, during and after your workout, not just when you get thirsty
  • Replace electrolytes lost through sweat, but avoid high sugar sports drinks
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Change your workout time to the morning or very late afternoon/early evening
  • Workout in a climate controlled environment with air conditioning or fans, especially if it is very humid outside. A humid environment will not allow you to sweat as efficiently due to moisture that is already present in the air stopping your sweat from evaporating and not allowing our body to cool down
  • Wear light colour and light weight comfortable loose clothing, preferably breathable wick type clothing
  • Do abbreviated workouts or slow down your workout and don’t overdo it
  • Workout in the evening when it is generally cooler
  • Have a towel handy
  • Use sun cream if working out outside
  • Cool down, yes cool down. A sudden stop can cause exercise-associated collapse or Heat Syncope, where you can feel faint after exercise after working out in the heat.
  • Stop if you feel something isn’t right, i.e. dizzy, over tired or any of the symptoms mentioned above under ‘Dangers of working out in the heat’


Take note of the above and remember to keep as cool as possible and stay hydrated. The heat shouldn’t stop you working out if you plan ahead and are sensible.

If you do suffer any symptoms from heat, stop working out and get your temperature under control. Seek medical help if the symptoms feel severe or are persistent.

Why not also check out the how to stretch warm up and cool down article.