“Exercising in a hot and humid environment puts extra stress on your body,” says Michele Olson, PhD, a certified Pilates teacher and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in AL. In an attempt to cool off, it sends more blood to circulate through your skin, which leaves less oxygen-delivering blood for your muscles. Here, she provides strategies to get through your next sweat session.
Time it right. “It’s best to exercise in the earlier and later parts of the day when the heat and humidity have dropped,” Olson says.
Ease into it. Acclimatizing yourself to the increasing temperatures and humidity can be a good way to get up to speed. “Spend short amounts of time in the heat, such as five- to 10-minute walks around noon, and gradually build up your level of physical activity,” Olson says. “As your body adjusts to the heat, you’ll sweat more efficiently, reducing the heart rate response, and the potential for dehydration and electrolyte depletion.”
Just add water. “Sip ½ cup of H20 about 20 minutes before an outdoor workout and then 1⁄3 cup every 15 to 20 minutes during your session,” says Olson. Post-workout, she advises placing a cold, wet towel on the back of your neck. “The sensor for our body temperature control system is in this area, so it can make the rest of your body think you’re cool.”
Hit the mat. Pilates gives you a great full-body workout without raising your body temperature as much as other activities, Olson says. Bonus: It’s usually done indoors in air conditioning!