I was planning to join my running group for our usual Thursday evening 3½ mile run. Unfortunately, even at 6:30 pm the thermometer was still above 90 degrees and the humidity in central New Jersey wasn’t letting up either.
On top of all that, I was making my wife nervous as I contemplated running under those conditions.
There are plenty of warnings out there to cut back outdoor activity when it’s hot and humid. If you ignore the signals coming from your body and overdo it, there can be some serious medical consequences.
But are there actual advantages to training in hot and humid weather?
The human body is remarkably adaptable – maybe hot weather is something we should be learning to adapt to instead of cowering indoors with the A/C cranked up to the max. I know I’m happiest when I’ve found some new physical pursuit in which I can (gently) push my limits.
It turns out there are some distinct advantages to working out in hot weather.
But BE CAREFUL!
Experts agree that anyone in poor shape shouldn’t start a conditioning program outdoors in the middle of August. You’re taking the risk of heat stroke or worse.
But if you have a baseline of reasonable physical fitness, and you’re willing to pay careful attention to the signals your body is giving you, working out in hot weather can give you an extra fitness boost. Don’t imagine you can run as far or as fast as you might in cooler weather. And plan to hydrate (that’s modern lingo for drinking water) two or three times as much as under more normal conditions.
- You’ll become more efficient at sweating. I know this may not be on the top of your list of priorities, but sweating is how you stay cool in hot weather. If you begin to sweat more efficiently, that will help you even when you’re not exercising.
- Your conditioning will take a big boost, especially if hot-weather workouts become a regular part of your routing
- You’ll have the personal satisfaction of feeling your body rise to a physical challenge.