How to Safely Work Out and Eat Well During a Heatwave, According to Philly Wellness Pros

Philly fit pros and nutritionists offer their tips for exercising, staying fueled, and finding shade in extreme temps.

heatwave workout wellness tips

Philly wellness experts weigh in on how you can still maintain your wellness habits during a heatwave. / Photograph from Getty Images.

Philly summers are hot — in both senses of the word. There’s always something fun to do, but temps can be rough. (This week, Philly has been embroiled in a heatwave. Where is the relief?!)

Such high temps can make it difficult to safely exercise (especially as more folks opt for outdoor workouts), stay sufficiently hydrated, and avoid overheating. So how can you maintain your wellness routines when you feel like you’re melting? Below, seven local fit pros and nutritionists share their tips for safe outdoor workouts, plus eating well and finding shade during a heat wave.

Find Some Shade

“On days when it is super hot, I recommend getting out before the sun comes up and hitting up one of the many amazing gyms in our city. If you’re working out outside, though, my favorite shady spot is behind the Philadelphia Art Museum. The steps can be HOT, but there a few shady patches where you can get a good little workout in! Also, we underestimate the power of walking how beneficial it is to our health and how it can be a great form of being active while not requiring you to exert as much energy [as other physical activities].” Brianna Williamson, Solidcore coach and registered nurse

“While working out outside can be free, can be done at any time, and allows for distancing and taking off your mask, some people do not have access to clean and safe outdoor spaces, and it’s weather-dependent. A potential solution: check out different parts of the Wissahickon Trail, which offers a lot of shade.” Lauren Leavell, local barre and HIIT teacher and founder of Lauren Leavell Fitness

“Lemon Hill is well shaded, as is Boxers’ Trail and some parts of the Schuylkill River Trail. Your best bet is to try to go when the sun isn’t high in the sky, so around dawn or around sunset. For attire, I usually wear a hat, sunscreen, and light-colored, moisture-wicking clothing, which absorbs less heat than dark-colored clothing.”

Don’t Shy Away From Variations

“Adjust your expectations when working out outside. Be kind to yourself if you aren’t doing as much as you would inside, that’s okay! You’ll see people taking different variations in class, which is exactly what class should look like anyway. Plank can be taken on the knees or even in a tabletop position, for example.” Ann Thornton, instructor at Tuck Barre & Yoga

Listen To Your Body

“Break up your workout into smaller, more manageable ones. Try alternating between a series of strength exercises and a sprint or jog. But mainly: listen to your body. No heroes are made from pushing through nausea or dizziness.” Katie Costalas, co-founder of RippedPHL

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

“After losing my previous water bottle, I upgraded from a 24-ounce to a 40-ounce bottle to encourage me to drink more water and it worked. My other favorite refreshments during the heat are fresh pressed juices, or the matcha lemonade from Shot Tower Coffee. I don’t tend practice outdoors during a heatwave and instead opt for indoor practices like restorative yoga, yoga nidra, meditation, and pranayama, which is centered around the breath and can have a cooling effect in the mind and body.” Adriana Adelé, local yoga instructor

“Water is best, or if you’re a heavy sweater, a beverage with some electrolytes in it like a coconut water, Propel, or Gatorade. (Gatorade make all different levels of sugar in their products these days, so you can pick one that works best with your diet needs.) You can also increase your water-dense foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, and melon.” Leslee Sholomskas, registered dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition

Don’t Operate on an Empty Stomach, Before or After Exercising

“I can definitely say that you want to make fueling up before your workout a priority. You want to make sure you’re not working off an empty keg. Maybe a rice cake with some peanut butter, a granola bar, or a banana. Plus, you definitely want to hydrate throughout the workout. After you work out, you may not want to eat, which is tough because your body needs to refuel, fill back those glycogen stores, and get yourself some protein to repair your muscles. When this is the case, sometimes a cold beverage like a smoothie might be your best bet — you can pack in a lot of nutrition in them!” Sholomskas

“My go-to cold treat is a Weckerly’s ice cream sandwich substantial, satisfying, and delicious!” Thornton

“When I’m working out for longer periods outside, I take Saltstick fast chews to replace electrolytes (which contain sodium, potassium, and magnesium). My favorite post-workout recovery drink is good old chocolate milk, which has been scientifically proven to help refuel exhausted muscles.” Combs