Would you look at this map from the Burlington Free Press? It’s incredible. We’re in day #5 of a terrible heat wave, and I’m DONE.
This is rare for Vermont. Summer temps are usually in the 70’s, with an occasional foray into the 80’s. It’s one of the many reasons I love living here. But the past few days have been a different kettle of fish. It’s been in the nineties!
Oh. My. God.
It’s awful. I don’t know how people who live in places like Florida stand it. Give me a cold day anytime. There’s a lot to be said for walking across the room without breaking a sweat. And I can always pile on layers.
The problem is we’re not used to temperatures like this, and we certainly haven’t had a chance to acclimate. June was pretty cool, and that makes a difference. What makes it even more unbearable is that most places, including my house, have zero air conditioning. I’m fortunate enough to live on a lake, so I’ve been spending a lot of time there.
So what do you do when you’re a dedicated runner/cyclist/hiker/outdoor enthusiast, and it’s hot enough to bend railroad tracks? Or melt the tarmac enough to cause a plane to sink? And I’m not exaggerating: Both of these actually happened during previous heat waves.
Heat is nothing to mess around with. According to federal data, it actually causes more deaths annually in the United States — about 130 — than flooding, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or cold.
I don’t mind summer, but these temperatures are crazy. Once it reaches around 82°, I’ve pretty much had it. And with the way the climate is changing, there’s little doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of these super hot days in the future.
So what should you do when it’s really, really hot? Should you go outside and work out? Or should you skip it entirely and feel like a complete slug?
You could sit around and dream about ski season. That’s one alternative, though it won’t do you much good. Or you could work out indoors, where it’s air conditioned, which is probably a lot better. But if you simply have to get outside, make sure to take the proper precautions:
- Drink plenty of fluids. And I mean plenty. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue and poor performance. Even worse, it can cause heat stroke. So be sure to drink 2 cups of water 2 hours before you start your exercise routine, and keep it coming — about 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
- Wear appropriate clothing, preferably light in color and moisture wicking. Cotton stays wet, making clothes cold and uncomfortable, so it’s not the best choice. There are a lot of high tech fabrics that are much better and will keep you feeling better.
- Exercise during a cooler part of the day. It’s best to go out first thing in the morning, or late in the day, when the sun isn’t directly overhead.
- If you stop sweating, stop exercising. Or if you feel nauseous or dizzy or especially hot. This is extremely important. You could be suffering from heat stroke, which can require emergency treatment.
- Swim. This is a great way to exercise and stay cool at the same time. Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?
Also, it’d be a good idea to learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here’s a handy-dandy graphic put out by the National Weather Service that can help:
Keep cool, everyone. Remember, the earth is turning and winter is coming. Then we’ll complain about the cold. 😉
I’m from Texas, this weather is Home for me. The abusive Home I left as soon as I could, without looking backwards, but it’s still where I come from. I can promise that it does not actually help that much if you have a chance to get used to it. It is not a good idea to work out in this kind of heat. This is what a gym is for. Lot of gyms have day-use fees so you don’t need a whole membership.
The graphic is good, but it misses that a nagging headache is often part of heat exhaustion, as is a general level of otherwise-unexplained irritability.
Also, there’s only so far that water will take you. I speak from personal experience: you can be staying hydrated with water, and still get a heat stroke. Gatorade is your friend, if you must be outside in this stuff.
The two rules of thumb we use back Home are 1) monitor the color of your wee, and if it isn’t almost clear, you need more fluids, and 2) when the Gatorade stops tasting nasty, you need to drink more of it.
Thanks, Lori! Great Advice!
I also have some advice on the topic of the cold shower. If you’re into Heat Exhaustion territory DO NOT launch yourself directly into a cold shower, unless you want to make yourself really sick. The way to do this is to put the shower on at some tepid/barely warm temperature and stand under it. Then you start creeping the temperature towards the colder end of the spectrum while you’re still standing under it. If you take some time about this, you can wind being comfortable in much colder water than you would be able to stand if you just plunged directly into it, and you can get a much better and more long-lasting cooling of your core temps. Also, it feels good, while jumping straight into cold water usually doesn’t.