7 Tips to Safely Exercise in the Heat

7 Tips to Safely Exercise in the Heat

7 Tips to Safely Exercise in the Heat

Key Takeaways

  • If you choose to exercise outdoors, here are 7 tips to avoid heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, cramping, and heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke symptoms include all the signs of heat exhaustion but also rapid heartbeat, confusion, fainting, and profuse sweating
  • If you’re not in good physical condition and not conditioned for activity in hot weather, it’s important you know your limits and respect them
  • Reminder to stay hydrated, wear lightweight clothing, and aim to exercise in the morning or late afternoon when it’s cooler

Top Products in This Article

TheraPearl Neck Wrap
Cold Pack

TheraPearl Neck Wrap Color-Changing Hot & Cold Pack on white background.

Banana Boat Sport
Performance Lotion

Squeeze bottle of Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen

G2 Thirst Quencher

Plastic bottle of Gatorade G2 sports drink in grape flavor

As the summer begins and temperatures rise, heat-related illnesses become more common. It's important to familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion so you can identify them when you or someone else may be in danger of a heat stroke. When exposing yourself to high temperatures and humidity, there are preventable steps you can take to exercise safely in the heat.

Enjoy the outdoors after reading these 7 tips for cooling down your workout!

How does heat affect my body?

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. Both the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature during exercise. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate.

If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn't easily evaporate from your skin. Once you stop perspiring in hot, humid conditions, you are at greater risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. But how can you tell the difference between heat exhaustion or heat stroke?

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures, and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Body temperature may rise to 103°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

Infographic explaining the main differences between Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke, with first aid tips

If you have heat exhaustion, act quickly. Move to a cooler, air-conditioned place and lie down. Take a cold shower or use cold compresses. Remove tight fitting clothes or extra layers and hydrate with water or sports drinks. Unlike heat exhaustion, a heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. If you lose consciousness or continue to vomit, call 911. Move to a cooler place and use cold compresses to reduce body temperature until EMTs arrive.

TheraPearl Neck Wrap Color-Changing Hot & Cold Pack on white background.

With proper precautions, most heat illnesses can be prevented. The best method for improving heat tolerance and decreasing the risk of heat illness is to gradually acclimate yourself to exercising in hot environments, a process that takes 7 to 14 days. Give your body a chance to acclimate and work up to exercising in those conditions.

7 Tips for Exercising in the Heat

1. Avoid the hottest part of the day. To avoid intense heat, exercise early in the morning or late in the day. The hottest temperatures occur between 11 am – 3 pm. Watch the weather forecast and take extra caution when it’s hot and humid. Humidity can work against your body’s ability to cool the skin since sweat can’t properly evaporate.

Woman in athletic outfit standing in a wooded forest drinking water from a bottle

2. Drink plenty of fluids.The key to exercising safely in the heat is hydration before and throughout your workout. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. Help your body sweat and cool down by drinking water frequently. Research recommends consuming 16 to 24 ounces of water a couple hours before exercising.1

Do not take salt tablets. It can increase your risk for dehydration. Do not drink extremely cold water as it may cause stomach cramps. Lastly, do not drink alcohol, caffeine, or drinks with a lot of sugar, such as soda. These types of beverages can cause you to lose fluids.

3. Regularly use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure to reapply at least every 2 hours or after sweating. Sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Squeeze bottle of Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen

4. Wear light, breathable clothing. When getting dressed before a workout, make sure to wear lightweight, well-ventilated clothing. Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and Lycra easily absorb sweat and allow for evaporation. If you are exercising directly in the sun, light colors such as white reflect heat better than other colors.

The most important body part to keep cool is the head. Wear a hat and if you are feeling extremely tired, soak it in cold water. Wearing a hat won't necessarily reduce your core temperature, but it could improve your comfort level.

Man with head tilted toward the ground as he puts on a baseball cap

5. Know your limits. Be aware of your fitness limitations and respect them. If you’re not in good physical condition and not conditioned for activity in hot weather, you’re more vulnerable than a well-conditioned athlete who regularly trains in the heat. Listen to your body and if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or tired, give yourself a break in a cooler location. Allow your body time to rest and refuel between workouts to prevent jeopardizing your fitness and workout goals.

6. Replenish your electrolytes. If you plan to exercise for a couple of hours, you may want to choose a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. These drinks aim to replace salts and minerals as well as fluids. Choose lower-calorie options that contain less sugar.

Plastic bottle of Gatorade G2 sports drink in grape flavor

7. Create a training plan. Plan for a short workout of speed-walking intervals or tackling a few incline hills. If you’re doing an interval workout of walking bursts followed by recovery periods, extend your rest breaks longer than normal. Gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts as you exercise outdoors more often.

Need more tips? Watch this video here!

Remember, heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. If the summer heat proves to be too much of a challenge for your standard high-intensity workout, break it up into multiple smaller workouts throughout the day. Take precautions and enjoy a safe summer outdoors!


1. Hansen, Kelli. (2017). Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion: What’s the Difference? Healthline. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3f9trOk

2. Metcalf, Andrea. (2014). 6 Tips for Exercising Safely in the Heat. ACE. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3rhQgSy

3. Worth, Tammy. (2012). How to Exercise Safely in the Heat. Healthline. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2NLLXB0

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.