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What to Wear for Hot Weather Outdoor Exercise

We all know how hot Las Vegas gets during the summer months. It’s downright sweltering! Going out, especially working out in the heat can feel horrible and near impossible to dress for. What outfit could you rock that would be the most comfortable? All that sweat has to go somewhere. Add to that the danger of getting a sunburn? The possibility of chafing? Yowzas! Wait, all hope is not lost. There’s good news: For the most part, our bodies are awesome at thermoregulation. Research shows the more aerobically fit you are, the better your body is at handling hot temperatures. So what if you’re just starting out and need to build up your aerobic fitness? That’s where your clothing choices can play a big part in your comfort and in how well and long you’ll be able to exercise.

Try some of these tips from the experts to help you put together your next workout outfit. 

Get Familiar with RealFeel Temperature

The RealFeel Temperature is an equation that takes into account many different factors to determine how the temperature actually feels outside. It is the first temperature to take into account multiple factors to determine how hot and cold feels.

Some of the components that are used in the equation are humidity, cloud cover, winds, sun intensity and angle of the sun. Humidity is a large contributor to determining the RealFeel, but the time of the day also is important, due to the angle of the sun.

Not all heat is created equal: High humidity can make the effects of heat significantly worse by slowing the rate at which sweat can evaporate off your body. Sweat may be annoying, but it is the body’s way of cooling itself. However, this cooling effect only happens when the sweat can evaporate. In high humidity, sweat sticks around. Good thing we live in the deserts of Las Vegas, so we don’t have to worry about that.

If you live in or are visiting a humid area, just assume it will always feel a few degrees warmer than the actual temperature, and dress accordingly. To get a more precise idea of how hot it really is, use the National Weather Service’s Heat Index calculator to plug in the temperature and humidity to get an accurate read on exactly what kind of heat you’re dealing with.

How High is Your Tolerance? 

Every body is made differently, so different people have various heat tolerance levels. It’s important to dress for your own needs rather than trying to match what your exercise buddies are wearing. Heavy sweaters may find wearing long sleeves unbearable because they can soak through quickly. Everyone will have a different reaction to different heats and the more time you spend exercising in heat, the more your body will adapt.

To figure out and keep track of your heat tolerance, start to take notes after your workouts. Track your exercise and take notes on duration and difficulty, the weather that day, and what you wore. With enough data, you’ll eventually start seeing patterns and figure out what clothing works best for you. 

So what kind of things should you be thinking about when you’re trying to put together your “hot fit?” 

1. Protect Your Face

Think about getting a breathable, sweat proof cap. One that will provide UV protection, keep the sun off your face and scalp, and help to keep sweat out of your eyes. Think you’ll overheat covering your scalp? You can try a visor, a headband or sweatband to keep hair off your face. If you decide to keep the head gear, remember your scalp will be getting a lot of sun exposure. 

2. Shield Your Eyes 

Sunglasses are important if you know you’re going somewhere without much shade. Shades will protect your eyes from the sun’s rays and improve your vision because you won’t be squinting like Mr. Magoo. Keep an eye out for  polarized lenses that offer UV protection: Some cheaper ones won’t, but you don’t need to buy super expensive glasses to get good protection. Take a look at Goodr‘s sport sunglasses, which are only $25, provide UV 400 protection, and have a variety of styles to choose from.

3. Save Your Skin

Hot or not, you should make sure any exposed skin has sunscreen on it. An easier way to avoid sunburn is by simply covering up what you can, while still allowing your skin to breathe and cool itself. Luckily for us, there are a plethora of athletic brands that make lightweight clothing options, which provide UV protection while wicking moisture and keeping you cool in long sleeves. There isn’t a fabric that works as well for sweat-wicking as just having bare skin, but covering skin for protection from the sun’s radiation is important as well.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clothing is the best way to protect your skin from the sun. Not all fabrics are made equal. You’ve got to make sure the clothing you’re wearing actually has UV protection. For example, a plain white cotton T-shirt is only rated at around SPF 7. On the flip side, some brands like Under Armour and Columbia offer athletic threads with built-in SPF 50. If you’re out for a long run or walk, but won’t be going too hard, consider wearing a long-sleeve running shirt that offers UV protection. This saves you from the need to reapply sunscreen while you’re out.

4. Choose The Right Fabric 

Reach for light and minimal fabrics when it comes to clothing. Slather your skin with tons of sunscreen and allow the air to hit your skin as much as possible to speed up the cooling process. When it comes to fabric and fit, go for light and tight. While a loose fit might seem like a great idea at first, keep in mind if you sweat profusely, the fabric will start to get drenched and weigh you down, flap around and even chafe if it’s too loose. If you’re not working too hard or don’t sweat profusely, looser clothing will provide more air flow. On the flip side, if you’re going to be going hard, once loose clothing gets wet, it’s much more prone to chafing.

5. Test Your Seams

The seams on your shorts, shirt, or sports bra may not be as noticeable or bothersome on a cool day or short walk,  but add heat, sweat and time, and you may start to chafe. There are a few ways to ease the irritation. First, check where the seams are bothering you. You can also make use of a chafe-proof stick (similar to deodorant but designed to fight friction instead of smelly sweat). You can also try a DIY on your clothing by putting a small piece of cloth tape over the seam that’s bothering you.

6. Own Your Choice

This may sound a little silly, but your self-deprecating talk can determine your comfort levels. Using positive self-talk helped decrease discomfort when exercising in hot conditions. Next time you find yourself second-guessing that that shirt you wore, change that tune and pump yourself up. Give yourself a compliment for even getting out there and exercising. You’ve got this!

7. BYO(W)B

An insulated water bottle is not only a good idea, but a necessity to bring. Think you don’t need it? Think again. It can get into the triple digits in Las Vegas no matter what area you’re in, Summerlin, Spring Valley, The Lakes, it won’t matter. That sun beating down on you can get brutal. The ability to take a few sips or splash your face and wrists with cold water if you’re getting overheated, can be the difference between heat exhaustion and being able to get home without any problems.

8. Be Cautious 

A hydration vest, pack or belt is a must if you’re going for a long or hard workout in this kind of heat. Add as many ice cubes as you can so you have access to cold water throughout your walk or run, and have enough water to drink at least 20 ounces each hour (or have a plan to refill). Pick your clothing to fit comfortably with your pack of choice. For many, a tank top with a vest or pack is uncomfortable and can lead to shoulder chafing, so a short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt is a safer bet. But again, look for one designed for hot-weather exercise.

In addition, it’s important to keep a very close watch on your heart rate and how you’re feeling for longer or harder efforts. Don’t be afraid to dial back to an easier workout, and save the tough stuff for a cooler day.

9. Heed Heat Stroke Signs

It’s important to take heat and your body’s warning signals about it seriously. If you feel as though you’re starting to exhibit any signs of distress: heat cramps, sudden fatigue, headaches, weakness, nausea, confusion, clammy skin or a spiking heart rate that doesn’t coordinate with your exertion level can all be signs you’re in danger of suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While hot weather certainly isn’t the most pleasant to exercise in, it’s totally possible to stay active (and safe) during the sweaty months. Just prepare appropriately and stay vigilant of your body’s feedback during exercise, and you should be just fine. 

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