Tag Archives: Heat Waves

Meditating During a Heatwave

August in Toronto is a hot and humid affair. While this month did start out chiller than usual, we’re currently in the middle of a heatwave that’s been going on for a few days now.

I’m lucky enough to have fairly decent air conditioning in my apartment, but I’m still counting down the days until the heat of August fades away and the beauty of autumn begins because of how easy it is for the heat to sneak into my place on unusually hot days and how many places in this city don’t have good air conditioning.

One of the things I enjoy the most about meditating during a heatwave is what a fantastic tool it is for dealing with the weather as I step outside of my home and feel that first puff of hot, stale air.

There are several different lessons I’ve taken from my meditation sessions and applied to experiences like those at this time of the year. I hope all of you are feeling milder temperatures than I am, but I thought this would make a good idea for a blog post for anyone else who feels like they’re walking through an oven right now.

Breathe

Now that I’m meditating again more regularly after my break from it last spring, I’m sometimes surprised by how calming it is to breathe deeply and focus on nothing in particular at all.

My brain is slowly being trained to focus on my breathing when I step outside and inhale steamy August air. I do my best not to think about the temperature, the future, or anything else at all. All I need to do in that moment is breathe in and out again.

It is such a simple yet helpful reminded to stay in the present and focus on those things you actually do have control over.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Live in the Moment

Autumn is still seven weeks away, and even the fall solstice isn’t a guarantee of cooler weather immediately. Last year we had hot, summery weather all the way through until the beginning of October.

It’s tempting to wish away the end of a season. I know I often give into this temptation at the end of winter when it feels like warmer weather will never arrive, but this summer I’ve been making a genuine effort to live in the moment instead of fantasizing about what the weather will be like a month or two from now.

There are positive and negative sides to any season – literal or metaphorical –  we find ourselves in, and I’m telling you this as someone who doesn’t always grok this right away. It’s easy for me to imagine the worst or to spend so much time thinking about what could or might happen in the future that I forget to live in the now.

Notice Sensations Without Judging Them

Confession: I am not always very patient when dealing with months of humidity. There comes a time nearly every summer when the humidity has been so high for so many weeks that I honestly want to go jump into Lake Ontario, grow some gills, and spend the last month of summer swimming around with the fish to stay cool.

Noticing and acknowledging sensations without immediately deciding what I think about them is definitely something I’ve had to work to do during my sessions.

To give you an example that isn’t weather-related,  I had a sore muscle in my neck and shoulder last week. It was the first thing my mind jumped to every time I sat down to meditate because of how it was affecting the way I moved and the kinds of things I wanted to do. (No worries, though – it is all better now).

Figuring out how to acknowledge that part of my body without immediately jumping to thoughts about why it was sore or when it would heal wasn’t easy. Relaxing helped, and so did focusing my attention on it for a brief moment before returning my mind to a state of rest.

It’s been interesting to transfer this mindset to something like standing on an overcrowded subway car or walking down a street that doesn’t have much shade at all.

Unless someone suddenly gives me the power to control the weather, there isn’t a single thing I can do to change the temperature or the humidity outside. It is what it is.

There is definitely something to be said for noticing perspiration forming on your skin or a hot breeze skimming your hair without immediately judging those sensations.

How does summer affect your meditation? How has meditating affected how you handle uncomfortable weather?

6 Tips for Exercising Safely Outdoors in Hot Weather

The long, hot, and humid days of July have begun here in Toronto.

If you’ve never been to Ontario at this time of the year, imagine feeling like you’ve stepped into an oven every time you go outside.

The heat can be adjusted to eventually, but the unrelenting humidity in July and August is one of the few things I truly dislike about living in this part of North America. It’s inescapable, and it can make 30°C (86°F) feel like 40°C. (104°F).

Exercising in the depths of summer comes with its own unique challenges. Today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite ways to stay fit when the weather is much warmer than normal.

Take a Hot Bath First

This was by far one of the most surprising tips I discovered while working on this blog post. Last month there was a study published on the effects of taking a hot bath before being asked to exercise in a hot, humid room. The runners who were assigned to this part of the study became acclimated to the heat faster and ran farther than the participants who were cooled down before they ran.

That study reminded me of that old wives’ tale about drinking hot beverages during heat waves to help your body cool down more efficiently. There have been a few smaller studies that showed this was effective, but the data about them was pretty scarce while I was doing my research on this.

Pick the Right Time of Day

As you might have already guessed, I’m not a big fan of heat waves, but there is some relief to be found even in the depths of August if you’re willing to save your workouts for times when the sun is either not shining or is very low in the sky.

Evenings are much more comfortable times for exercising on all but the hottest of days. Once the sun begins to set, Toronto breathes a sign of relief. Our sidewalks and parks become flooded with people and pets enjoying the cooler weather.

Alternatively, early mornings are also a good time to squeeze in a workout because the sidewalks and ground in general have had all night to release the heat from the day before. Sometimes early summer mornings can even feel a little chilly if you head out early enough.

Pick the Right Activity

I’m a fan of street hockey, but it’s not the kind of game I’d want to play on a 40°C day. A walk would be the most strenuous form of exercise I’d feel comfortable doing when the weather was that hot, and even then I’d prefer to do it in the shade or at a cooler part of the day.

You can become dehydrated quickly at those temperatures, so I dial my activity back when it’s that warm outside even if I’m carrying a bottle of water with me.

With that being said, it is safe to exercise in hot weather if you acclimate yourself to it and tailor your workout to your age, fitness level, and weather. The article I just linked to was talking specifically about jogging, but the general principles of it can be applied to any other form of more strenuous exercise as well.

Stay Hydrated

Am I the only person who sometimes forgets to drink enough water on hot days?

One of the biggest dangers of exercising outdoors at this time of the year – other than getting a sunburn, if you’re fair-skinned – is accidentally becoming dehydrated. It can happen faster than you might think if it’s very humid outside or if the hot weather has dampened your urge to eat and drink like it does for me.

My parents live in the desert Southwest, so they are accustomed to bringing a bottle of water from home wherever they go. I’ve been thinking about getting into this habit as well this summer.

There are public drinking fountains in Toronto, but there aren’t as many of them as I’d like to see and there are barely any of them in our parks at all. Carrying my own water is something I need to do if I’m going to be spending time outdoors in July and August.

Wear Breathable, Comfortable Clothing

The other day I was browsing through a rack of workout clothing. I was surprised to see how many of the pieces were made from fabric blends that included rayon or polyester.

Synthetic fabrics like these are good for chillier seasons, but they’re the last thing I’d ever want to wear when the weather is hot and humid because they don’t absorb sweat or breathe the same way that cotton does.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do at this time of the year is wear anything that’s going to make me perspire even more than I already am.

Pace Yourself

Listening to your body is always a good idea, but it’s even more important when you’re pushing yourself more than normal.

Skipping or shortening one workout isn’t going to have an effect on your longterm fitness goals. It’s much more important to stay safe than it is to ignore potentially dangerous symptoms like dizziness if your regular workout is too much when the weather is hotter than usual.