Working Out With Humidity So Thick You Can Cut It With A Knife
Why it never hurts to be cautious when it comes to humidity.
The effects humidity has on the body while working out can be disastrous if they are not planned for. In this article, we’ll talk about tips and tricks to increase the safety and enjoyment of your workout in a high humidity environment.
Over here in the Florida Panhandle, it is a very hot and humid climate. When working out in this environment the effects of humidity on the body can be extreme. We want to help you to complete your workout safely and successfully in this hot and humid environment!
We’ll start with some of the obvious questions pertaining to working out in such a climate:
What is humidity?
Whenever there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity is high, making it “feel wet” outside without the effect of rain. The relative humidity measurement is the actual amount of water vapor in the air compared to how much maximum water vapor could be held at the same temperature.
In a warm environment like Florida, high humidity levels are more common, because warm air can hold more water. The humidity can make the temperature feel hotter than it actually is.
Actual temperature vs heat index.
This is an important distinction. The "Heat Index" are apparent temperatures, which means what the temperature “feels like” and therefore, not the “actual temperature.” The heat index is influenced by the humidity because, as we know, humidity makes the temperature feel hotter.
How working out in a humid environment affects the human body.
In order to keep cool, our body produces sweat, but only when the sweat dries, since evaporation is a cooling process. When the relative humidity of the air is high, for example, if the air is saturated with moisture, sweat evaporates more slowly and resulting in a “hotter” feeling temperature.
This can be dangerous when working out because your body’s natural cooling method (sweating) becomes less effective, putting you at risk for heat-related health risks.
What are some of the dangers of working out in a humid environment?
Working out in a humid environment can cause or exacerbate any an all heat-related ailments, including:
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
While dehydration is quite common (most people are chronically dehydrated), extreme cases can lead to further issues like heatstroke or even cardiac arrest.
It is important to be extra vigilant in hot and humid environments, making sure you’re not only drinking more but also replacing micronutrients and lost electrolytes to improve your uptake of water.
What are some tips and tricks for working out SAFELY in a humid environment?
There are some instances where working out in humid environments are simply unsafe. When the temperature and humidity goes well into the 100s, the benefits of exercising do not outweigh the risks associated with heat-related risks.
However, you can exercise safely in most humid environments using the following tips:
- Hydration ─ increase hydration during hot/humid days and in advance of workouts. Avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol. Ensure you are also replacing micronutrients and electrolytes by also consuming sports drink.
- Clothing ─ wear breathable clothing that wicks sweat. This clothing will dry faster than cotton or natural fibers and will help your body to cool down.
- Exertion level ─ on extra hot or humid days, you don’t need to work as hard to achieve the same exertion as on cooler days. This means your workouts should be easier on these days.
- Timing of exercise ─ exercise after the sun has gone down or start before the sun comes up. Avoid going out during the hottest parts of the day or exercise indoors where you can control the temperature and humidity.
Finally, what are some safe ways to cool the body during or after exercise?
Some of these tips actually begin before the workout starts! By starting your workout hydrated and cool, you are more likely to remain at a stable temperature throughout and it will take you longer to “overheat.”
You can also avoid the coffee, pre-workout, and spicy foods before starting, as these all trick your brain into thinking your body is hotter than it really is.
Consume fluids (water and electrolytes) throughout your workout will help your body make up for some of the fluids lost during exercise. On this note, drinking cold water actually helps your body to cool down faster to meet the temperature of the water.
Finally, adding a cool compress to your neck, armpits, or forehead can help accelerate your cooldown. But don’t jump into an ice cold shower or bath until you have stopped sweating, as this extreme shock can cause your system to arrest.
What is your favorite way to cool down after a workout? Let us know in the comments below.