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10 Ways to Stay Cool While Exercising

Almost every athlete who works out outside has to cope with trying to stay cool as their bodies warm up. The muscles contract when we exercise, and this increases the core temperature of the body and causes the heart rate to skyrocket. When the heart starts beating faster, the body works overtime to try and cool itself down. One of the ways that this happens is with vasodilation – this is where the blood vessels in the skin dilate to allow heat to dissipate and cools the core temperature of the body down. We also sweat, which cools the skin and lets us feel more comfortable while we exercise.

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The problem?  Well, unless you understand nitric oxide as a vasodilator and how you can cool your body down, you might struggle to workout comfortably or effectively – and that just won’t do! You don’t have to be a beast of an athlete to workout comfortably, and we’ve got plenty of suggestions to help you to exercise in the heat without melting like an ice cube. It can be dangerous to workout in the summer months when you are outdoors, but if you take the right precautions you’re going to be just fine! So, with this in mind, here are ten ways to keep your body cool as a cucumber when you exercise in the heat.

  1. Choose your timing wisely. If you train in the early morning or the late hours of the evening, you’re less likely to overheat when you exercise. It’s a no brainer as to why given that these are the times of the day that are coolest when you are awake. Exercising in the middle of the day poses a problem as you will be there with the heat beating down on you from the sun. You will be much cooler during a workout if you stick to the cooler times of the day.
  2. Keep up with your water intake. It’s not a secret: if you want to sweat effectively, you need to hydrate while you are working out. Drink water in short sips throughout the workout and you’ll dehydrate properly throughout. You can offset heat exhaustion when you hydrate during a workout and when you exercise intensely for an extended period of time, you need to ensure that you keep your salts and electrolytes up.
  3. Sunscreen. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who choose not to use sunscreen when they are working out. Sunburn can really affect your body’s ability to sweat and remain cool. When you wear the right sunscreen level, you can protect your skin from being burnt. Slip on a hat, slap on some sunscreen, slide on breathable shoes and make sure that you are protected from the sunshine. Working out outside is going to put you at risk in the sun, but you’ll not have to worry about this when you are working out inside. 
  4. Wear lighter clothes. When you are outside exercising, you should think about wearing clothing that will reflect the sun rather than absorb it. Lighter clothing can help you to stay cooler. Don’t be fooled about moisture-wicking apparel that causes you to spend money on your new athletic wear – studies have shown that there really isn’t any difference in whether you wear cotton or polyester when it comes to your peripheral temperature. You could look at different clothing construction, but there aren’t enough studies to ensure that this would make a difference, either!
  5. Try and workout in the shade. If you’re a runner, try to map your route so that you’re running in shady areas. If you are simply completing a workout outside, always stay in the shade when you are working out. You’ll be protected from the sun’s rays and you’ll stay much cooler than baking in the field. Seeking shade is just the smarter way to work in the sun. In the shade, you might even pick up more of a breeze, too!
  6. Always take breaks. Overexertion is what causes people to pass out in the heat and yet if you take frequent breaks, you’re going to err on the side of caution naturally. Breaks help you to catch your breath and give your heart a chance to recover. Don’t forget that your heart is working very hard when you are exercising in the heat – harder than usual because of the extra stress on the hypothalamus to cool you down. 
  7. Get used to hot workouts gradually. Did you know that it can take 14 days to get used to working out in a new climate? You should workout in blocks each day working in short blocks to start with before you add more exercise time. If you start short and at a lower intensity, you can gradually build it up and end up working out effectively in hot weather by the end. This will give your body a chance to make some changes and get used to the new temperature that you work in.
  8. Keep an eye on the weather. This is especially important in the summer months, but you need to do all that you can to work on working out in the heat safely. That means that you need to look at that weather index. If the day is showing to be too hot, don’t work out. You can exercise indoors on days where it’s too hot outside. It’s not a smart idea to risk it – not when your health is on the line.
  9. Know what heatstroke is. If you ensure that you are aware of the symptoms of heatstroke, you’ll know the time to stop. Muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, headaches and more are all signs that you have to stop your workout right then and there. You could overdo it and the results could threaten your life.
  10. Look to go indoors. It’s lovely to workout outside, but you might need a plan B if the heat is too much for you. Move inside when the weather could harm your health.