Running in Heat: Safe or Extremely Dangerous?

Running outdoors is one of the most reliable exercises that requires very little equipment. One of the only downsides is that you're completely subject to the weather's whims. On days that the temperatures rise, exerting yourself in the intense heat can be hazardous—at the very least uncomfortable and at the worst, possibly dangerous for your health.

If you've found yourself on a run during extreme heat, you've likely already felt the temperature taking its toll on your body—so we had a doctor weigh in on whether running on a hot day is a good idea. We reached out to Dawn Tottenham, MD, an emergency medicine physician in New York, to weigh in on the dangers of running in the heat.

Tottenham advises to take precautions if exercising outside on a particularly hot day. "Keep runs short without too much exertion," she urges. "Hydration should include some electrolytes, as a lot is lost through sweating."

In addition to staying hydrated, one should listen to their body's signals during their workout. "Watch out for muscle or intestinal cramping, lightheadedness, palpitations, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea or vomiting," warns Tottenham. "One should immediately go to cooler temperatures and seek medical attention should these symptoms develop."

To be safe, it's wise to avoid running outside on extremely hot days if you can. If there's any question, Tottenham says it's best to try to run indoors. If you have to run outside, she suggests going on a run in the early morning or evening or on trails in the shade.