Whether you are biking, running or playing basketball with friends, you should take the temperature into consideration before performing any activity outside. While exercising in hot weather can be beneficial in some cases, it can also cause heat-related illness.
OrthoIndy sports medicine physician, Dr. Chris Bales, discusses tips for working out in the heat.
What are the risks of exercising in extreme heat?
Be aware that if your child is exercising in extreme heat, it can lead to heat illness. Heat illness is a spectrum of disease due to environmental exposure to heat. It includes mild symptoms such as cramping to more severe symptoms of neurologic dysfunction and organ failure.
“Muscle cramps are very common in athletes playing in hot, humid conditions they are not accustomed to and who are poorly hydrated,” said Dr. Bales. “If you are training in hot conditions, drink a lot of water and if you feel nauseous, take a break.”
While muscle cramps are common, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are not and are more severe forms of heat illness. These symptoms are associated with an actual rise in core body temperatures. Symptoms include:
- Rapid heart beat
- Profuse sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
Do you burn more calories working out in the heat?
“Working out in hot temperatures burns more calories because your body has to work harder to cool itself off,” said Dr. Bales. “However, exercising in extreme temperatures puts added stress on the body.”
In general, you burn a mix of fat, carbs and calories when you exercise. The more intense the exercise is the more that mix shifts up what you burn and how fast you burn it.
For example, if you are used to running a 9-minute mile in the cold, but then try to run a 9-minute mile in the heat, your body might have to work harder since it is not used to other factors slowing it down. This makes the 9-minute mile in the heat an intense workout because the body must work harder to cool itself down and slow down your heart rate. Be cautious that you are not overheating if you are running in hot weather.
If you are looking for alternative intense workouts to try indoors, we suggest the following:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT), or short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.
- Cycling classes
- Every minute on the minute (EMOM), perform one or more reps of the given exercise on the minute then rest until the next minute
Is it better to exercise in the heat or cold?
“The ideal temperature to work out in is between 68 to 72 degrees. Most people will find it easier to work out in cold temperature as your body can regulate its temperature better,” said Dr. Bales.
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