Here in Southern California, it’s 106 today. Again. Tomorrow? 100. Even when you love California, temperatures this high can get oppressive. Air conditioning stays on 24/7 but if you want to get out of the house, you’re amongst a bunch of other people also wanting out of the house while escaping the heat. Crowds + heat = cranky people. Movie theaters are mobbed, parking at the mall is hard or waits at restaurants can be long. Add in the unusual humidity due to Hurricane Odile and it’s rather miserable outside, so working out in the heat is challenging.
Here in my upstairs home office, I have a great view of our neighborhood. I usually see a lot of people running, walking and biking; these past few days, I’ve seen only two diehards running, slowly, in the heat. We have numerous trails and parks and they’re empty. And here’s my confession: I’m not out there either. Staying hydrated is difficult and even the most fit find this weather is crimping their style, so what do we do?
Working out in the heat isn’t impossible, but you do have to be flexible. Here are some ways you can still increase your calorie burn, the steps on your pedometer and your exercise minutes.
- Use a treadmill! Seems obvious and easy but a lot of runners really don’t like them. I have to agree that it’s a different experience from running outside but in an area where there is a lot of rain or heat, it’s a good option to have. Many gyms will let you do a trial period or month-to-month basis, so you can use their air-conditioned space to run during the worst of it all.
- Stairs: when I’m bored with the treadmill, or just want to push some different muscle groups, I’ve been known to do stair sprints. Up and down, backwards and forwards – I always feel it somewhere the next day!
- High-Intensity Interval Training: I can’t testify to accuracy of calorie burn, but I read that one set of 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats and 10 push-ups burns 100 calories. However many it does, a few sets of these will get you feeling as though you did more and you can hit up the areas you most need to tone while getting your metabolism moving.
- Pull out the DVDs or the video games! This is fun with your family – fitness should be fun! I regularly do Zumba, positioned carefully under an a/c vent, via the Xbox 360. Choose different types of dance and music and the minutes fly by.
- Re-enact your old gym class days. This sounds silly, but remember when you would all line up along the end of the gym in your grade school days? Run 20 feet, turn around and run back. Drop and do a push-up. Run back and forth repeatedly. Have a tiled floor? Pretend they’re tires on the football field. Make hurdles over pillows.
- Mall-walking. Crowded, maybe, but it does have the perks of you perhaps seeing a gorgeous pair of must-have shows when you’re speedwalking by.
- Swimming – another obvious choice but water aerobics don’t require a class. You can stand along the edge in any pool on your own and do some resistance exercises and still get in some relaxation with the kids.
- Head to the beach! Kill two birds with one stone. Walk the sand and have a beautiful view. Or the mountains, to hike in the shaded trees. Take advantage of your surroundings!
Whatever you do, if you’re working out in the heat, make sure your workout gear is appropriate. It should wick away the moisture and help prevent heat rashes. There are some lotions out there available. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and if you feel dizzy, take a break. Good shoes and socks will help you avoid blisters and don’t forget to protect your eyes with proper eye cover when you’re in the sun.