8 Ways to Make Walking in the Heat More Bearable, According to a Walking Coach

Walking outdoors in hot weather, commonly known as the “hot girl walk,” can have numerous positive effects on the body. However, it’s important to be cautious as it can also lead to increased body temperature and the risk of dehydration. Exercising in temperatures above 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit can elevate the risk of heat exhaustion, where the body struggles to regulate blood flow and maintain proper thermoregulation.

1. Try to walk in the early mornings or late evenings

“I always recommend people go out early in the day, and I think it’s a common tip among exercisers before all the smog builds up,” says Scott. Not only is it cooler, the air quality is typically better first thing in the morning. If you are unable to fit in a walk early on, walking at night when temperatures are lower is also an option.

2. Choose your path wisely

This might sound like common sense, but it can truly make a difference: Walk on a trail or path that has shaded areas. If you are in a city, walk along a tree-lined avenue or in between tall buildings that offer shade from the sun. One smart strategy is to head somewhere with shops—this way you can step into the air conditioning for a few minutes if you need to. For people who live in a suburban or rural area, choose a trail that has plenty of shaded areas and places to hydrate (like public water fountains at a park). If nowhere outside feels comfortable, don’t rule out an indoor mall, which will let you stay inside of air conditioning and avoid UV rays while you’re at it.

3. Keep your head and face cool

Keeping the head cool can help you decrease your body’s rising temperatures as you walk. “I often wet my hat to keep cool,” says Scott. (This is a strategy that pro marathon runners use, too.) Studies show that head cooling helps to improve athletic performance and reduces fatigue following a workout. Intermittent face cooling such as face misting has also been found to improve endurance in hot environments. Try running cool water over your head whenever you pass a water fountain or carrying ice water that you can dump on top when you start to get too toasty. Also, it can help to keep your face out of the sun: Wear a visor, sunglasses, or a hat.

4. Stay hydrated and be prepared to sweat!

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: As you sweat, you need to replenish your body with fluids. On hot days, you should hydrate every 15 to 20 minutes with at least eight ounces of water when exercising in the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. If there aren’t water fountains on your route, bring along a water bottle. And if you’re out there for a long time, or if you know you’re a heavy sweater, consider adding electrolytes.

5. Try pre- and post-cooling

Before heading out into high temps, you can prepare your body by cooling off inside (aka standing in front of the AC, maybe with a couple of ice packs) and drinking cold beverages like a slushie or smoothie. Research shows that these strategies can reduce your body’s core temperature even once you begin to exercise, helping to improve your safety and endurance while exerting yourself in hot weather. And don’t forget about bringing your body temp back down after you’re done walking: Scott also suggests taking a cool shower after your workout, if possible.

6. Dress strategically

Aim to wear lightweight, breathable attire in light colors that reflect in the sun. Tight-fitting clothes can trap the heat, and designs that leave room for skin-to-skin contact (like tank tops) can cause chafing, depending on your body, so test out different styles until you find what’s comfortable for you. And stick with sweat-wicking socks—old-school cotton options can end up creating friction and lead to blisters. Lastly, Scott recommends choosing comfortable running shoes that feature mesh material on top and have a low heel profile.

7. Listen to your body

If at any time you begin to feel excessive fatigue or feel like you can’t walk any further, give yourself a break. “If you absolutely feel like the heat is too much, then you need to stop walking and find a cool place in the shade to bring your temperature down or step indoors,” says Scott. If you keep pushing through, you could put yourself at risk for heatstroke, which requires immediate medical attention.

8. Give yourself time to acclimate

If you are new to walking or the temps have suddenly spiked, remember your body has to become acclimatized to the heat. Over the course of a few weeks, your body will gradually adjust to walking in the heat. Start slowly with shorter walks at a reasonable pace. “Over time you will be able to increase your pace,” says Scott. “Trust what your body is telling you in terms of speed.”


Back to top button