St. George, Utah, is known for its vibrant red rock landscapes, crisp blue skies...and scorching summer temperatures. The typical St. George summer day sees temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit — and up to 115 degrees in July and August — creating an environment that can make exercise challenging and risky. The heat, combined with the city's relatively high elevation of over 2,800 feet, can hinder your body's ability to cool itself, thereby reducing your exercise performance and possibly negatively affecting your health.
Potential Risks of Working Out in the Summer Heat
Working out in the intense heat brings a variety of risks. Dehydration is one of the most common issues, as the body loses water and essential salts through sweat. Heat exhaustion is also a risk, presenting symptoms like heavy sweating, rapid pulse, fatigue, and even fainting.
In extreme cases, exercising in high temperatures can lead to heat stroke, a severe condition that can damage the brain, heart, and other vital organs. These are incredibly good reasons to be very careful about your summer workouts.
Five Ways to Workout and Stay Safe
Given these risks, it's essential to adjust your workout routine to the summer conditions in St. George. Here are four strategies that can help you exercise safely and productively.
1. Workout Indoors
This is definitely a "no duh" situation, but the easiest way to beat the heat is to bring your workout indoors. The controlled climate of an indoor gym or home workout space can eliminate the risk of heat-related issues.
Opt for exercises that match your fitness level and desired intensity, whether that's a spin class, weightlifting, or yoga.
2. Workout Early in the Morning
If you prefer to workout outdoors, the temperature is typically coolest in the early morning. If you can adjust your schedule, try to complete your workout as the sun rises. Not only will you avoid the worst of the heat, but you'll also enjoy the tranquility and freshness that the morning brings, potentially enhancing your overall workout experience.
You can also try working out in the evening, but it takes longer for the air to cool in the evening after a full day of blazing sunshine. Your best bet is to shoot for the morning — after the wild outdoors has had a full eight hours to cool.
3. Take a Trip to Cedar City or Enterprise
If you're looking for an outdoor workout but want to avoid the excessive heat, consider a trip to nearby Cedar City or Enterprise. Both areas are at higher elevations and therefore offer cooler temperatures. Plus, the change in scenery might provide a refreshing twist to your regular exercise routine.
4. Workout in Small, Incremental Bursts
Another effective strategy is to split your workouts into smaller, manageable bursts spread throughout the day. Instead of a single, hour-long session, try three 20-minute sessions, or even six 10-minute sessions. This approach reduces the time spent in the heat and allows your body sufficient rest between efforts, reducing the risk of heat-related complications. It will also reduce your risk of getting sunburned.
5. Stay Hydrated and Get Your Electrolytes
Staying hydrated is crucial, especially when working out in the sweltering heat of a St. George summer. As you exercise, your body sweats to cool down, causing you to lose water and electrolytes. If these losses are not adequately replaced, it can lead to dehydration, which negatively impacts performance and could potentially cause health complications.
Here are a couple of tips to maintain your water and electrolyte levels:
Ensure that you're drinking enough water throughout the day — not just during your workout.
Replenish your electrolytes, especially after your workout, by consuming bananas, oranges, yogurt, spinach, or sports drinks.
Don't solely rely on thirst as an indicator of when to drink. When exercising in extreme heat, you may be losing water faster than you realize. Make it a habit to drink regularly, especially before, during, and after your workouts.
While the summer heat in St. George, UT, presents some challenges, there are several ways to ensure you can exercise safely and productively. Whether you choose to workout indoors, rise early for a morning routine, take a trip to a cooler location, or break your workout into smaller increments, the most important thing is to listen to your body and take appropriate precautions to stay hydrated and cool.