How Do I Exercise During a Summer Heat Warning?

110 degrees showing on wall thermometer
110 degrees in the shade at 2 p.m., hours before the high temp is reached.

When the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning for the Las Vegas valley, I take notice. If the forecast is for 110 degrees, I know the shaded outdoor wall thermometer on the patio will probably show temps closer to 115 degrees by day’s end.

So how the heck am I supposed to keep up a training schedule in preparation for a full slate of fall races — or simply to stay healthy — when it feels as if I’m living on the surface of the sun?

Maybe workout at 6 a.m.? Sounds reasonable, but Las Vegas temps could be 95 degrees shortly after Ol’ Sol rises over the Sunrise Mountain range. Get out before dawn? Temps *might* only be four degrees cooler.

Perhaps you live in an area with humidity running in the 70s, 80s or beyond 90 percent. You’re probably already hot, sweaty and clammy 24/7 so I can’t imagine you really want to go outside for a run or bike ride.

So back to my original question: how am I supposed to keep up with my training schedule? First, I’m not strictly adhering to my training plan (to be honest with you, I rarely do!). I’m taking it one day at a time to ensure I’m not overdoing it and having proper recovery between training sessions.

My 4-Step Approach to Hot Summer Training & Exercise:

  1. Stay indoors — I do half-hour sessions on the indoor bike trainer and strength training in my living room, and I go to the gym to use the treadmill. Thirty-minutes may not sound like much but it’s more than I feel like doing most days when it’s hot, and especially if I’ve had to be out and about on errands or for meetings beforehand.
    • To maximize that 30 minutes of cycling or race walk sessions, I keep to an increased pace of pedaling cadence or stride turnover with one day of serious effort of intervals. I’m feeling the benefits of this approach!
  2. Increase the amount of water I drink each day — it’s easy not to realize how much water we lose through sweat and by simply breathing. I start my day with a pint glass of filtered water, and keep a sports bottle filled with ice water with me wherever I go. On busy desk-bound days, I set my phone’s timer to remind me to drink something every hour.
    • Water helps keep me cool, my brain functioning clearly, and the leg cramps at bay each night.
  3. Eating water-rich veggies and fruits — besides watermelons and peaches, I love cucumbers — they are so dang yummy just peeled, chopped, and chomp-chomp-chomp! No need to marinate or pickle them which saves a bunch of time.
    • Instead of the usual white vinegar-and-sugar marinade, try using apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. I find this offers a smoother, more flavorful and less-mouth-puckering experience.
    • Summer fruits are healthy in moderation. As tempting as it may be to eat several sweet peaches or a quarter of an icy watermelon at one sitting, be aware they are “sugar bombs” that can spike blood glucose levels, something people with Type 2 diabetes need to be aware of.
  4. Use an oscillating fan in the bedroom at night — we keep the house temperature at 78 degrees morning, noon and night in an effort to keep the monthly power bill down. I use a fan in the bedroom to keep the air moving and help mask the noise of the air conditioner when it kicks on.
    • I’m considering using a humidifier in the bedroom as well. The mist will help the fan cool the air plus relieve the sinus irritation due to the lack of humidity.

You may think that the last three points are not part of an exercise or training program. Actually, they’re often the most overlooked, and in some cases, the most important aspects of getting and stay fit. Eating right and getting quality sleep help our bodies recover from exercising and keep our immune system humming along.

For more ideas of dealing with the heat when exercising, check out this article, “Tips for Training in the Heat” by Rachel Allen on page 12 of the summer issue of Tail Winds. I think the suggestions can be applied anywhere, not just in the Arizona desert.

What do you do to stay active during the hot summer months? Share your thoughts with us below or on the Slowpoke Divas’ Facebook page!