Exercising in the heat is always going to be rough. And with the temperature outside rising, exercising in the heat will only be more difficult to avoid through the summer months.

But exercising in the heat can also be risky if you are not careful. Signs of heat exhaustion include general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and an increase in body temperature. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your quest for a great summer work out. Just follow these nine guidelines to exercise smart in the heat. But make sure to talk to your doctor about starting an exercise regimen and issues about heat and hydration.

Woman in sports bra and leggings with dumbbells outdoors running. Fitness exercise concept.

Tip No. 1 — Acclimate Yourself to Summer Heat

It can take up to 14 days to adjust to temperature changes. If you are preparing for an event that will take place in the heat of the day, be active in the heat ahead of time. Failure to acclimate can cause a range of issues, from heat stroke to a serious loss of performance.

Start by running shorter distances or reducing your pace in the early days of summer, gradually increasing intensity and duration as your body adapts. Stay well-hydrated and listen to your body’s signals. If you experience any symptoms of heat-related illness, like seeing stars or feeling sluggish, it’s essential to stop running, seek shade, and rehydrate.

Tip No. 2 — Stay Hydrated

Man drinking water from a water bottle.

To maintain good hydration for a moderate summer workout, drink:

  • 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise
  • at least 8 ounces of water shortly before getting out in the heat
  • A gulp of water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.

Make sure to talk to your doctor about specific fluid intake when you exercise. However, always remember that dehydration never provides a performance boost. That’s reserved for hydrated bodies and that takes discipline to maintain.

Tip No. 3 — Slow Down When Exercising in the Heat

Hotter days require slowing down. Fast run paces generate more heat, which may push your body past they point it’s acclimated to handle. If it’s hotter than you’re used to, review your run and cut the pace back or cut the exposure back. Don’t try to do the same pace you did the day before.

Tip No. 4 — Wear Light, Breathable Clothing

Man Exercising in the Heat while running on a hot day without a shirt.
Wearing light clothing keeps you cool while reducing heat.

The goal when running in the summer (besides running) is twofold: Not getting burned and not getting dehydrated while running. Lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat while protecting your skin are best for exercising in the heat.

Just remember: Clothes should also be light in color in order to reflect the sun and loose enough not to retain heat when they’re wet with sweat. 

Consider also wearing a visor or hat to protect yourself from the sun and to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight. Moisture wicking socks are also helpful as they’ll keep your feet blister free.

For those parts of your body you can’t cover, consider applying sunscreen lotion.

Tip No. 5 — Exercise Early or Late

If possible, get out before 7 am or after 6 pm when exercising in the heat. On average in the Boise, Idaho, area, The average temperature before 7 a.m. during the summer months can range from around the mid-50s to low 70s. The highs, however, can range well over 100.

Running before 7 a.m. in summer is like running on a cool spring day. Less need for preparation, less hydration related issues and less hassle: running early adds length to your day, and energy to your summer workout.

Tip No. 6 — Assess the Previous Day

It’s very important with those who exercise regularly to write everything down each day. Take into account your physical activity, fluid ingestion, and yesterday’s diet. You could be dehydrated or fatigued even prior to exercising, which could get you into trouble faster on a hot day. Writing down your notes can help you see patterns that can improve your runs.

Women writing down notes in their runner's log.