Have you noticed your energy levels dropping while you’re out in the hot weather? You’re not alone. The heat has a real impact on your body, and there’s more to be concerned about than just a sunburn. Let’s talk about why you’re more tired in the heat, and let’s look at five easy strategies that’ll go a long way toward boosting your energy.
Why does warm weather make you tired?
When it’s hot, the body has to work harder to maintain homeostasis (a balance between all your body’s systems to keep things functioning properly). So even if you aren’t getting physical, just being in the heat is enough to tire you out, because your body is working overtime to keep you cool. Your heart rate rises, and your body burns calories at a higher rate.
The body’s thermoregulatory methods present in two ways. Vasodilation, or the widening of the blood vessels, lets more blood get to the surface of your body, which helps regulate internal temperature. Sweating is the other bodily response to being hot — your system moves core body fluid to the outside. These processes require energy and effort.
5 ways to overcome feeling tired in the heat
These simple strategies can help you fight off fatigue and enjoy the warmer weather.
According to StatPearls, an estimated 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration is more than just being thirsty. The body needs water to function. There’s a danger of being dehydrated in the heat, because your body can’t cool you off, leading to heatstroke. The more you sweat, the more you deplete your fluid reservoir.
Dehydration symptoms can be subtle, especially if you’re chronically dehydrated and get used to the dry lips, tiredness and headache associated with dehydration.
Staying hydrated is one of the essential ways to beat fatigue in the heat. You have to replace the water you sweat out. When you know you’ll be outside, it’s a good idea to increase your water intake to prepare your body for what it’ll lose through sweat.
Water is the best liquid source to combat dehydration. However, sports drinks can replace the salt lost in sweat, making them another good option. Avoid drinking alcohol while in the heat, as it’s a diuretic that worsens dehydration.
Protect yourself from the sun
Moderating your time in the sun helps you beat fatigue in two ways. First, sitting in the shade or going inside can keep your body from overheating, which saves energy. Secondly, it protects your skin from UV rays. Sun damage to the skin can also contribute to fatigue because your body expends energy to repair the skin.
You should always wear sunscreen when outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using SPF 30 or higher and reapplying every two hours. Even if you apply sunscreen, sitting under umbrellas and wearing loose clothes and hats that block the sun is recommended.
Add B vitamins to your diet
B vitamins are essential nutrients that aid in bodily functions, like moving oxygen through the body and breaking down amino acids. They’re also central to energy because they help in cell metabolism. B vitamins become even more important during the hot months, when your energy levels are drained quicker.
These B vitamins are central to energy: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, folate and B12. Adding vitamin-rich foods to your diet is an easy way to naturally boost your energy. Great food sources of B vitamins include leafy greens, brussels sprouts, eggs, avocados and whole grains.
You can also add a multivitamin to supplement your diet and get all your B vitamins.
Snacks are your secret weapon in the heat. They can help you boost your energy and replace the electrolytes and salt your body is losing in the heat. I know what you’re thinking: When it’s hot, sometimes the last thing you want is to eat anything. It’s best to keep your snack small and nutritious. Fruit and veggies are full of electrolytes, and nuts and trail mixes are great for replacing salt.
Check in with yourself
One of the most effective ways to combat fatigue during the warmer months is by doing multiple check-ins on your health throughout the day. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can creep up on you. You can assess your needs and respond accordingly by listening to your body.
If you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded, get somewhere cool immediately and drink some water. Putting an ice cube on your wrists is also an effective way to cool down, since the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the wrist.
When does fatigue become something more serious?
In most instances, being in the heat is just uncomfortable and leaves you feeling worn out. However, there are times when you may approach a heat-related illness — heat exhaustion or heatstroke. The main difference between the two is how your nervous system reacts. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person may become confused or have slurred speech during heatstroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are generally the precursor to heatstroke. They include heavy sweating, cold and clammy skin, muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness or passing out. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must immediately try to cool off so you don’t pass into heatstroke territory.
You should be able to enjoy your spring and summer months without feeling drained. And you can. All it takes is a few intentional practices to prepare your body.
For more from wellness, check out all the reasons that you’re oversleeping and easy productivity hacks to get more done.