how to stay cool while exercising in the heat

Exercising in the heat can be daunting, to say the least. When it’s 90+ degrees out and the sun is beating down, many of us just don’t feel like moving.

Or if you do move, it’s only to get to the pool.

When it’s toasty and humid out, I often opt for exercising inside. While I sometimes wish my apartment gym was a little cooler, it’s definitely not as bad as the 95 degrees outside. (I live in Texas, y’all.)

But lately, I’ve been wanting to get outdoors more.

Since most of us work inside, exercise is one of our rare opportunities to actually see the sun. Getting fresh air and seeing new scenery? These are things a treadmill just can’t provide.

Being a runner for most of my life, I’ve gotten plenty of experience exercising outside during all weather conditions.

Today I’m sharing my tips and tricks for staying cool while exercising in the heat. Here’s how to get those good summer workouts in, despite the hot conditions!

Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!

Exercising in the heat

Photo used in pin created by drobotdean –

How to Stay Cool While Exercising in the Heat

1. Opt for morning or evening

This one is summer 101: do everything you can to avoid exercising during the hottest time of the day.

This means choose either morning or evening.

The timing of this will depend on where you live. For example, on the east coast where I grew up, the hottest times were between 12pm – 2pm. Down in Texas, it’s more like 4pm – 6pm. (Although, honestly anytime after like 9:30am is already gonna cause you to sweat like there’s no tomorrow.)

If you can get up and go, exercise in the morning. If you’re like me and that sounds like the last thing you’d want to do (morning Cedar just wants to sit and drink her coffee haha), choose the afternoon/evening!

RELATED: Creating an Exercise Habit – 7 Tips for Working Out After Work

2. Slow down!

I purposely will run a little easier if I get outside during a hotter time. This is especially true on a really humid day!

And if the heat seems to be smothering you as you trudge up a big hill, don’t be afraid to walk! I’ve had plenty of runs where I was in good shape but needed to walk solely because of the heat and humidity that day.

Remember: It’s not a reflection on you or your fitness level. It’s only because of the heat!

3. Dress for success

Dress for success when exercising in the heat

During summer this phrase has a whole new meaning.

Moisture-wicking shirts are the way to go! Polyester fabrics were what got me through those tough summer training runs in high school.

I also love running in tank tops so my under arms can breathe.

Even better is running in a sports bra. Some people may look at me in horror when I suggest this, but I find it so freeing. Every woman should feel comfortable running in a sports bra because every body is unique and beautiful!

But in case you aren’t comfortable with that, which is absolutely okay, tank tops are a great breezy alternative.

Finding bottoms you love is crucial too. I know I go on and on about my Lululemon shorts, but I absolutely love them. They’re a little bit pricey but so worth it for me since I wear them nearly every day.

And if shorts aren’t your jam, finding capri leggings is a must! I love my underarmour ones so so much.

4. Take a water bottle with you

Whether you’re running, hiking the trails, or walking in the park, take a water bottle with you!

It’s a no-brainer to say that staying hydrated will help you beat the heat, but many think of hydrating before and after their summer workouts.

My ultramarathoner brother recommended this water bottle to me and I love it. Really easy to carry and even has a pocket for your phone and keys!

See more of my brother’s tips for running gear and running long distance HERE!

running in heat tips

5. Try this breathing technique

I used to wheeze while exercising in heat and humidity. Not quite to the point of exercise-induced asthma, but it wasn’t very pleasant.

One day my dad told me a breathing technique he sometimes uses on runs, and low and behold – it works!

So during your next hot workout outside, give this a try:

When you exhale, do so with your lips in a circle shape like you’re trying to blow out a candle.

That’s it! And the exhale is the most important. You don’t have to inhale exactly like that either.

The funny thing is that once I started working in a cardiopulmonary rehab with patients who had respiratory diseases, I learned exactly why this breathing technique works. It’s called pursed-lip breathing, and helps you get rid of excess carbon dioxide in your lungs. This, in turn, also allows you to take in more oxygen. Simple, but brilliant!

And effective.

6. Seek out the shade

Seek out the shade for your summer workouts

Another tip that’s simple but effective is exercising in the shade.

One of my go-to places to run in the summer is a nearby park with lots of trees. Since a majority of the trails are covered, my body will feel many degrees cooler than if I were out on the open road.

So whether you’re doing a bodyweight workout in a park or mapping out a running route, search for locations where you’ll get plenty of shade!

7. Freeze or soak a baseball cap beforehand

While this may be a little uncomfortable during the start of your workout, you’ll be so happy you did it five minutes in!

Putting a baseball cap in the freezer or soaking it in cold water ahead of time will keep you cool for much longer than if you’d gone hat-less.

So if baseball caps are your thing, give this tip a try!

8. Half outside, half inside

The other day I left for my run later in the morning than I intended. It was 11:00am, and the temperature was already at 90 degrees.

I really wanted to run outside, so I compromised with running 2 miles outside, and then switching to the treadmill for the end of my workout.

While not ideal, I don’t have any intention of giving myself heat stroke and don’t want that for you either. So if it’s an option, considering completing part of your workout indoors.

9. Make a schedule every week

Lastly, getting yourself to exercise in the summer heat can be really challenging. You have a pretty dang good excuse to skip your workout when it’s scorching outside.

So make a schedule ahead of time using a fitness planner! By planning your workouts ahead of time, you know exactly what you’re going to do each day and can plan accordingly.

It’s also much harder to skip your summer workouts when you have it penciled in like an appointment.

Check out these top fitness planners I recommend for crushing your exercise goals!

I wish you the best of luck with your summer training! You got this!

stay cool while exercising this summer
keeping cool during outside workouts

Have any other great tricks you’ve learned about exercising in the heat? Please share in the comments below!