The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Exercise and the Heat plus Six Places

on June 13, 2014

I realize I’ve been complaining about the heat negatively effecting my run for a while now.  And I know why, because it’s included in my studies for the ACSM Health and Fitness Specialist exam.  So why am I complaining and not sharing info?  I don’t know.  But that will change today!

If you live in a climate that is now summer, you may have noticed your outdoor activities have slowed down greatly.  Your morning run may now be a jog, your afternoon walk is more like a stroll, and even yard work seems more difficult.  You are working hard, but not as fast.  It is frustrating and doesn’t make sense.  You know you can run an 8 min mile, but for some reason when it’s hot out your body won’t budge past 8:45 minutes, no matter how hard you try.


This is all due to a process called heart rate drift.

When it’s hot out, what do you do – SWEAT!  Even when you are not working out in the heat, your body is trying to cool itself out through sweating.  And add some workout into the mix, and man does the sweat drip!

Sweat is good.  It’s your body’s natural way of cooling itself.  Sweat on the skin is evaporated into the air, just like a rain puddle on your driveway evaporates into the air.  When the sweat is evaporated off your skin, the temperature of your skin becomes cooler due to a process called evaporation cooling.  And thus, your body is cooled off!  Pretty cool, right?

Well, the down side of this sweating process is that it makes your heart work much harder to work.

Another part of cooling is through your blood.  And in order for your blood to help cool you, your blood needs to be close to your skin.   And in order for your veins to be close to your skin, they need to be pumped full of blood.  This is why your veins bulge in your arms when you are hot.  They are wide, full of blood, and looking for the skin so they can cool the body.

But wait – if all the blood is going to your skin to help cool you off what is your muscles and heart using to work?  Of course, the answer is still blood.  But since more of your blood is near your skin to help cool you, there is less of it for your muscles and heart.

Since there’s less blood to work with, your heart beats faster in order to get enough blood where it needs to be for your workout.

Think of a soap pump.  If a lot of soap pumps out, you only need to pump it once to get what you need to wash your hands.  But if only a little comes out, you are pumping it over and over again to get enough soap.  This is what your heart is doing – pumping over and over again to get enough blood to your muscles so they can jog, walk, garden, etc.

This increase in heart rate means your heart is working harder.  So, once you become hot and sweaty, your heart is going to work hard just to cool itself, not accounting for your exercise.  So, you may be working as hard as you would to run an 8 minute mile, but you are actually only running a 9 minute mile.  This is all due to the extra strain the heat is putting on your heart.

Your body can get acclimated to the heat.  Some bodies are better at adjusting than others.  But until then, do what you can.  If you are walking slower, but still having your heart rate in the workout zone, then continue at your pace.  Your body is still improving because your heart is pumping and calories are being burned.  Eventually you will be able to pick up the pace.  Just make sure you listen to your body – take breaks, stay hydrated, wear light clothing and try to workout in the coolest temperatures possible!


Six Places (I broke this up into 3 places I would love to visit for the first time and 3 places I would love to visit again!)

1. Costa Rica – I mentioned this before.  Costa Rica is definitely on my travel bucket list!

2. Italy – ditto on Italy.  I would love to stroll along the hills and valleys of Italy, as well as visit the beautifully historic cities.

3. Colorado – I’ve never been there, but I love the mountains, I love cities, I love hiking.  Colorado has a bit of everything which I love.

4. Maine – I’ve been to Maine once, when I was about 15 years old.  My mother and I went and I remember it just being a very calm, relaxing and fun vacation all in one.  And that says a lot with a teenager and her mother traveling together!  I would love to go back to Maine and experience the beauty and nature again.

5. San Juan, PR – This was a birthday trip for me a few years ago and I had a great time!  The city life was cool, they have historic castles to explore, rainforests to hike and gorgeous beaches!  I would love to go back to experience other parts of Puerto Rico, including the caves.  I hear they are cool!

6. Maui – This was our honeymoon and while I had a lovely time, I feel like I still was a bit keyed up from the whole wedding planning/actual wedding process so wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I could have.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a masterful massage, the drive to Hana was AMAZING and experiencing paragliding over the Pacific Ocean was a great treat!  I’d just love to go back and not still have the post-wedding anxiety on top of me!

What are some of the places you love to visit or would love to visit?

3 responses to “Exercise and the Heat plus Six Places

  1. PaytonE says:

    Very interesting information! I’m not much of a runner but I’m starting to include it in my workouts now that I’m out of school and in charge of my own workouts instead of a teacher (who is the football coach as well and makes us all do the stuff the football players do and quite frankly my little 90lb body can’t do what the 240lb football player bodies can do)… anyways I scheduled myself for a 20 minute run today which I was going to do in the morning before work but had to go in early so I think I’m going to fit one in before bed tonight.

    • Best of luck with your workouts! It’s always a bit harder to make yourself do it rather than using a trainer or coach, but you can do it!

      • PaytonE says:

        It definitely is. I keep reminding myself that I don’t want to lose everything I’ve gained up till this point so I have to keep going! 🙂

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