When the Heat Zaps Your Energy

  • Breathwork
  • Nutrition
  • Yoga
Older woman over-heated in the summer heat

If you’ve been outside lately, it probably wasn’t long before you felt like the heat totally zapped your energy. Ever wonder why?

The reason is simple: Your body is working hard to keep you cool, and this extra labor makes you feel tired, according to Dr. Michele Casey, regional medical director at Duke Health in North Carolina.

In the heat, your body is constantly adjusting to maintain its temperature. For example, it dilates your blood vessels, a process known as vasodilation, which allows more blood to flow near the skin’s surface. Vasodilation allows warm blood to cool off, releasing heat as it travels near the skin. This increased blood flow near the skin also explains why some people look redder when they get hot.

In addition to vasodilation, you guessed it – you sweat – some of us more than others! Sweat is necessary though, because it cools us as it evaporates. But in order to do this extra work, your heart rate increases, as does your metabolic rate (the number of calories your body needs to function.) “All that work — increasing your heart rate, your metabolic rate — eventually makes you feel tired or sleepy,” Casey said.

Here are 5 simple tips – some you may know and some you might not have heard of – to help keep you cool this summer:1. Stay hydrated. When it comes to hydration, water is great, but did you know that hot drinks can also cool you down? It all goes back to that sweat. When you drink a hot beverage, your body may sweat, and that, in turn, cools your body down. Spoiler alert: If you’re drinking a hot drink in an environment where the sweat won’t evaporate ― like somewhere hot and humid (Greenville, SC!) ― that hot drink probably won’t do the trick. You might want to stick to a cold beverage on muggy days in the South. Try BYG’s cooling post-workout drink for a quick “pick-me-up!”

2. Replenish with electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals (think sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium, to name a few) in your body that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes are important because they help to balance the amount of water in your body. They are also responsible for moving nutrients and waste into and out of your cells, and for making sure that your nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should. When we sweat, we lose fluid — and electrolytes. When that balance is off, you could become dehydrated. 

3. Get some C’s. Researchers at the University of Alabama have found that vitamin C improves your heat tolerance by “delaying sweat gland fatigue, which reduces the occurrence of heat exhaustion and prickly heat rash.” Further research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental, and Exercise Physiology, found that vitamin C also keeps your body temperature from rising during heat exposure with a dose as small as 250 milligrams. So, you may want to add a vitamin C supplement to your routine, or better yet, click here for a list of high-C fruits and vegetables to enjoy this summer, naturally!

4. Soak your feet. Soaking your feet is an instant refresher for your whole body. It not only cools your tootsies, but it can soothe your nervous system and help reduce swelling. Try this DIY cooling foot soak to stay chilly and also minimize athlete’s foot infections. And, while you are soaking…

5. Try a cooling breath. Pranayama is the practice of breath control, and there are several techniques that you can use to cool your body as well as your mind. Click here to watch Alicia’s instruction on how to Alternate Nostril Breathing to feel calm, cool and collected! 

Got any other lesser-known tips for staying cool? We’d love to hear from you! Post your ideas on our FaceBook page, and help keep our BYG community cool this summer!