Beat the heat: Stay active, keep cool

As the temperatures rise to the high twenties and beyond, you may find yourself swapping your evening jog for a cold drink in an air conditioned basement. Outdoor exercise may be a challenge when the summer heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo your plans to keep in shape. Here are a few tips to stay active and safe this summer.

As the temperatures rise to the high twenties and beyond, you may find yourself swapping your evening jog for a cold drink in an air conditioned basement. Outdoor exercise may be a challenge when the summer heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo your plans to keep in shape. Here are a few tips to stay active and safe this summer.

1. Drink plenty of fluid. When you exercise in the heat, more water is lost through sweating, causing a decrease in blood volume. If the fluid is not replaced, the heart must work harder to pump blood to the working muscles. This can result in increased heart rate, excessive fatigue and dizziness. To stay hydrated, start replenishing your fluids before you exercise. During exercise, drink 6-8 ounces of water every twenty minutes. If you will be exercising for longer than an hour, consider adding electrolytes your water or using a sports drink.

2. Dress for the weather. Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing attire to keep cool in the summer.  Look for clothes made from synthetic technical fabrics (such as those labeled “Coolmax” or “Dri Fit” instead of cotton.  These technical fabrics are more comfortable and will decrease chaffing.  Also, be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat.

3. Avoid the midday sun. Get up an hour early to go for a run before work, or schedule your tennis game when it cools down in the evening.  If possible, exercise in the shade where it is a little cooler.

4. Take it easy.  Don’t expect to have a fantastic workout in the heat – your body does not function as well.  Gauge your exercise intensity based on how you feel, not how fast you are moving.  Slow down a little and take extra water breaks to compensate for the rising mercury.

5. Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion.  If you brave the heat, watch for signs of heat-related illness.  These signs include excessive fatigue, headaches, dizziness, feeling faint, rapid heart beat, nausea and vomiting.  Young children, older adults and pregnant women are more susceptible to experiencing negative effects of the heat.  If you experience any of these signs, get out of the heat and rest.  If the symptoms persist for more than one hour, or if you have a fever, seek medical help.

6. Have a plan B.  Even with the appropriate precautions, a long run in the hot sun is unpleasant and potentially dangerous.  Have a back up plan when the heat becomes intolerable.  Run on the treadmill in an air conditioned gym, or swap your weekly hike for a swim.

While the summer presents many opportunities to be active, it is important to stay safe while exercising outdoors.  Listen to your body when enjoying the summer sun.  When in doubt, exercise indoors.  If you are getting tired of the hot weather, remember that it won’t last forever.  Soon enough you will be planning your outdoor endeavors around the endless days of winter rain…

Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and personal trainer, specializing in weight loss, group fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and health and wellness programs.  She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, which offers Boot Camps, mom and baby fitness classes and personal training in the Chilliwack area.  Reach her at

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