Anyone who lives in a desert climate knows how high the temperatures can go. Some like to say that anything under 100 degrees feels akin to a cold snap. That may be true, but if you play your cards right, the weather shouldn’t stop you from exercising outdoors. There are, however, right and wrong ways to do it.
The Importance of Water to Your Outdoor Workouts
If you want to get your exercise outdoors in hot weather, water is something with which you must develop a close relationship. It should be nothing but water, though. Beer and soda may taste great at the time, but when it comes to hydration, neither of them will do the trick.
When it comes to the right amount of water, there are various schools of thought. Red Cross communications director Andrea McCauley states that everyone should consume a quart of room-temperature water both before and after exercising and one or two cups every 20 minutes during the workout regardless of whether they do or do not feel thirsty.
Sports medicine doctor William O. Roberts, on the other hand, believes that drinking too much water is almost as bad as drinking too little. He recommends that you replace only the quantity of fluids that you’ve lost through perspiration and no more. The exact amount will vary from one day to the next, so to determine the rate at which you’ve sweated, you’ll need to weigh yourself in the nude both before and after your workout. The amount of weight you’ve lost in ounces will equal the number of ounces of water that Dr. Roberts believes you should drink after your workout.
The Best Time and Place for an Outdoor Workout
According to some sports specialists, the hours between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. provide the perfect window for outdoor exercise. At this time of day, temperatures are the lowest and air quality the purest. Early evening hours are second best although air pollution may be worse at that time. If neither time of day is good for you, try to do your workout in a shady location, avoiding the sun as much as possible. Once your skin begins to burn, it will lose its ability to keep your body cool.
What to Wear During Outdoor Exercise
Anything you put on your body for an outdoor workout should be loose, absorbent and light in color. The fabric you choose is important, too. You are looking for something that will wick the moisture away from your body without staying wet and soggy, and certain fabrics are better at this than are others.
Some of the newer synthetic materials have a talent for drying quickly, thereby allowing your skin to breathe and encouraging sweat to evaporate. Cotton, on the other hand, is one of the worst fabrics in which to work out. Clothes made of cotton will soak up the sweat, and the longer you exercise, the wetter and heavier they will become. They will neither pull the moisture away from your skin nor allow it to evaporate and cool you off.
In colder weather, dress in layers that you can peel off as your body heats up. Wear the wicking fabric closest to your skin and put the insulating fabric over that.
Never, under any circumstances, exercise outdoors in materials containing rubber or plastic. These prevent your sweat from evaporating, allowing your body temperature to rise to dangerous and potentially deadly levels.
Don’t Overdo Your Outdoor Workout
When you exercise outdoors in hotter weather, keep an eye on the intensity. It’s best to maintain a moderate pace with your heart rate at no more than 70 percent of its maximum. If you experience any dizziness, feel any pain or find that you are breathing too hard to maintain a conversation, it means that you’re overexerting. Take a breather and slow the pace.
If you’re not used to exercising out of doors, start slowly. It can take as long as two weeks to completely acclimate to the higher temperatures, but as your body begins to adjust, you can increase the intensity and length of your workouts. Before too long, you’ll experience the special joy that comes to those who choose to get their workouts in the great outdoors.