July 02, 2008

Dripping and Cursing

[By Crabby]

No, This is Not Crabby

Is there anyone out there who actually likes to exercise in hot humid weather?

If so, you may want to excuse yourself, because this is going to be one whiny-assed post.

It's not entirely my fault--I've lived most of my life in coastal Northern California. I'm accustomed to mild summers tempered by cool evenings. Except during occasional "heat waves," early summer mornings tend to dawn crisp, fresh and lovely.

Most importantly, I grew up learning that "wet" goes with "cold." Not with "hot."

"Hot" and "wet?" That's crazy talk! Or pornography. Certainly not weather.

And even though I've spent a few random years on the East coast, I seem to forget, like mothers who get amnesia about labor pains. Now that I'm back east again, I'm suffering from a recurrence of an disorder common to California natives: Pleasant Weather Entitlement Syndrome.

So when the weather gets hot and humid, it feels not just uncomfortable, but like something is profoundly wrong.

Somebody must have screwed up. Something is broken. I want my money back! People simply shouldn't be expected to put up with something as ridiculous and gross as summer humidity, it's outrageous! (Last summer I spent a couple months in Washington D.C. and there'd be times I'd walk out of an air-conditioned building and just start laughing out loud).

Here in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the weather is heavenly compared to the Southeast. It hasn't even gotten hot here yet. Not only is P-town located in a northerly location, but if you were to peruse a map looking for a place where refreshing sea breezes would likely be found (and you were not willing to live on a raft in the ocean), it's kinda hard to beat:

Water Everywhere!
(Photo via flickr)

And yet I can still find something to gripe about.

Sure, it generally is very pleasant in summer--we just happened to have a few warm muggy days recently.

And....Aacckkk! California girl melts down.

I innocently went for a morning run-- and came back drippy and red-faced and exhausted and miserable. What the heck? What just happened???!!!! Oh, my goodness, it's... it's... humidity!

So I'm wondering: how the hell do you folks who live somewhere with real heat and humidity exercise outdoors? How is it even possible?

Sure I've read the general hot-weather exercise advice you tend to get and it sort of boils down to the obvious:

1. Acclimate slowly; your body, once trained, learns to sweat more quickly and copiously.

(Note: This is great when it comes to exercising! Not so great when you're just trying to get from your car to an important meeting and your well-trained body decides that your dry-clean-only outfit needs immediate drenchification).

2. Drink plenty of fluids.

3. Dress in cool, loose, light-colored clothing.

Probably Not Advisable
[Photo credit: Iain Farrell]

4. Avoid midday sun.

5. Wear Evil Sunscreen.

6. Don't go outside in the first place!

So I'm clearly not the expert here--have you folks had any experiences with hot humid weather? Any advice?


  1. As a life long resident of Western NY, hot and humid is the norm during the "dog days of summer". I either work out early in the morning or late in the day. I recently found the awesome bene's of under armor (or other brands) heat gear. It definitely helps to keep ya cool. However, if it is too "thick" outside, I will concede defeat and go to the gym.......

  2. I have.
    My recommendation is to spin on your heels and head back inside.


  3. I grew up in Texas. My favorite weather is +90 outside. I'll even go for really long runs and bike rides in this weather and love every second of it.

    But! Yesterday I went for a run here on the beach in southern North Carolina. It was about 92 and a billion % humidity. It felt like running through waters. So while I can handle the heat, maybe not so much the humidity.

  4. Oh, and no advice, really. You will eventually acclimate to it, but more in the sense that you'll get used to dripping sweat.

  5. It's been hot and humid here lately. I went for a 10K (6 mi.) bike ride the other morning around Crimson Lake thinking that it would be okay in the later morning. Dang near did me in.
    My advice? Go early when it's not too hot yet. Or just don't go at all.

  6. I actually live in Washington DC and have for five years now. There ain't no summer like a DC summer--97 degrees and 97 percent humidity, baby. Oh yeah.

    What I've found is that (1) Over time, you get more used to it. It's never pleasant, but you learn to deal. (2) If you're going to exercise outside between the months of May and October, you'd better be out the door by 5am and back no later than 7am. If you wait later than that, you'll pay for it. Running after work is totally out of the question for me. (3) Drink lots of water--more than you thought you could ever drink--and don't restrict your sodium as much. You lose a lot of salt sweating.

    I weighed myself before and after my last long run--I lost 4 pounds of water in an hour!!

  7. If you can, run with a water bottle full of cold water. If you want, you can even run with 2 to get a mini-workout for your arms.

    Pour some on your head. You're already drenched with sweat, and it feels really good.

    For getting around non-working out, iced tea and coffee helps (it saved me whenever I had to wait for the subway).

  8. Me, I'm with Mizfit.
    But then I also suffer from CGW (California Girl Wimpiness).

  9. Every year in Florida, during the late fall, winter and early spring, the weather is glorious! I convince myself that THE HUMIDITY is gone forever! Then over a weekend, it's back with a vengeance. Denial is a beautiful thing :-)

    Dr. J

  10. I lived in a hot, humid climate for 4 long years and technically live in one now (but so far, this is nothing).
    My advice:

  11. Absolutely no advice from cool northern Alberta (which is, currently, suffering a heat wave...) but I can tell ya, even walking in the heat and humidity is awful!

    And one wonders how the Pilgrims did what they did? Look at how they dressed in those days! And no such thing as air-conditioning. Tough, I tell ya!

  12. I spent two summers working on a lettuce farm in Southern Ontario.

    Hot muggy weather (some days it was over 40C/104F) + really really hard labour for 10-12 hours a day. I think that counts as exercising in humidity!

    Thing was, we all looked like crap. We were covered in dirt, sometimes mud, we had hair plastered to our heads under our hats, and boy, did I have one bitchin' farmer's tan. For serious. Sock lines is where it's at people, accept no substitutes for the finest farmer's tan there is.

    Aaaaanyway. As I was saying: we all looked like crap. And so we didn't care. And I think once we stopped caring that we looked so gross, we stopped feeling so gross.

    Also, if you really did want to go for a run and it's humid where you live, why not go out in the early morning, say, before 8 am. It's so very rarely humid at that time :)

  13. I so hear you. Moving from Seattle to Minnesota was more than just a culture shock. I curse the humidity here on a daily basis in the summer. And I don't even live in the south!!

    I also have the same instant-sweat-drenching problem that you do. I swear I have the most active sweat glands I've ever met. And it ain't just my pits either - I'm a fully body sweater.

  14. What can I say? Be born somewhere else? Hot and humid is the only weather I'm truly comfortable in. If the humidity (at any temperature) gets down below 70 I'm the one going "What's wrong? This doesn't feel right!"

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, mold capital of the nation

  15. I have no real advice, just commiseration. As one of the unfortunates training for a half marathon in Washington, DC, I know all about humidity. My running group has started meeting at 6:00 am on Saturdays to “beat the heat”. It DOES help, but that is EARLY. And last week I came back completely drenched. Totally cute, I know. But I always feel great when it’s done so it’s (sorta kinda) worth it.

  16. I was born and raised (and still live) in the D.C. area and I still hate the humidity. I had to skip the Race for the Cure because it was about 95 degrees and a million percent humidity. :-( Some days I skip going to the POOL when it's humid. it's that bad.

  17. Several years ago I went to San Diego for the first time, in August. It was 95F and 95% humidity here at home, and when I walked off the plane at Lindbergh I had a revelation: no wonder Californians have great hair and skin. It's amazing what the lack of humidity does to perk up, well, everything. Likewise, those of us here in the MidAtlantic use anti-humidity hair products, lots of blotting paper, baby powder, and fans. And we run *inside, on treadmills, in air conditioning, from June until September.

  18. I remember visiting Palm Springs, CA, in 2006 and being surprised that there really is a difference between dry heat and humid heat.

    Montreal can be unbearably humid and our temperatures can go quite high in the summer.

    One thing I did notice about the dry heat of CA though, was that it would be a lot easier for those of us from humid places to get heat stroke or dehydration easier in the dryer areas because we don't have the cues (sweat, etc) that we're used to.

    does that make any sense or am I just rambling, as usual?

  19. Living in Hampton Roads, VA - surrounded by water water everywhere - makes it miserable here in the summers. And I despise humidity. So from June until September I generally avoid the outdoors unless I'm going swimming. I'm not really sure why I live here because our seasons are: too hot to go outside, allergy, rainy and cold, allergy.

    I think I need to get back up North to my roots.

  20. Acclimate-Shamcklimate. You might get used to the general idea of humidity, you get used to being outside in it. I think it gets worse as we get older.

    (I grew up in Cleveland.. 90 degree temps with 95% humidity. I ain't never going back.)

    Things that helped:
    anything that let air come between your clothes and your body.

    a layer of powder like frosting.

    staying indoor.

    I think it used to feel less humid even in the evenings, but that just may be a faulty memory.

  21. I don't generally exercise outside. Seems like this kind of weather was made for gym-going or home treadmill-using, no? :)

    All of the places I've lived (Chicago, southern Wisconsin, Minneapolis) have humid summers. I used to hate it. HATE IT. Then I started losing weight... now I often wear a sweater in the evenings! It's nuts!

    Last summer (when I was "only" about 15 pounds down) I was working in a building that was pretty aggressively air-conditioned. I had to wear a sweater during the day at work, and walking out into the summer air in the afternoons was a relief!

  22. Wow, I don't know how some of you cope. Love the stories, though I'm glad I don't live somewhere where it's really bad!

    I'm so there with the idea of EARLY morning exercise. But when exercising somewhere hot & humid, I never seem to get my ass out the door fast enough. I'll wake up nice and early, but then coffee is mandatory, and I need to check on blog stuff, and the cat needs feeding, and where the heck did I put my iPod?

    By the time I'm off for my "early" morning workout it's often after eight and yucky out already. I need to take lessons from some of you folks or just get my ass to the gym, which has at least theoretical air conditioning.

  23. Treadmill indoors is my solution. It hasn't been too bad yet here in Michigan..but I just prefer to do my jogs on the treadmill, I need the extra push of the programs anyway. It looks very nice where you live. I love the water.

  24. I went to college in St Louis, which is one of THE capitals of humidity. When I visited the school, I think it was 105 after the sun went down, and nearing 100% humidity. Like walking through soup. I almost fainted one time when walking across campus, I could barely breathe (humidity+bad air quality = bad bad bad).

    Now I live in Boston, so I kind of laugh when people complain about the humidity. Yeah, it gets humid (like monday and tuesday this week, blech), but I'm just remembering St Louis, so as miserable as it can be here, it's worse there!

    I had to teach cycling in a really hot humid room last night, with floor to ceiling windows that just grab the sunlight and turn it into an oven. We were red faced and dripping by the time the first song was done...

  25. Hah! Hey Hampton Roads Heather! (How's the smoke where you are? Chesapeake is all hazy... blech!)

    Hot & Humid, yeah... boy I love living near the bay. /sarcasm

    I get up at 6:45 and am back by 7:45, it's not so bad, then... just lay out everything you need before you go to bed, get up, and do it. DO NOT TURN on your computer. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Do not drink coffee before you exercise (ew. Just the thought gives me an upset stomach. seriously? You work out after COFFEE??)

    In the afternoon, my husband and daughter and I still walk, even when it's 100+ degrees and 140% humidity (ok, I'm exaggerating, but not much) We bring water for us, and the wagon for the kiddo to sit in after she's "all done" walking. You get used to it.

  26. I'm only as far south as Southeastern Connecticut but this is what I wrote in my running log this morning: "Ran in foggy, humid soup. Managed 5.25 miles (barely), arrived home looking like I've run through sprinklers. Is there any hope for my marathon?"
    And, I started that run at 4:45 AM! By the end of the summer if you stick with it, you'll acclimate and then run some of your fastest times ever in the fall because it will feel like that Norhern CA weather you're looking for.

  27. Lynn,

    OMG you exercise WITHOUT coffee???

    Simply. Not. Possible. (For me).

  28. Menopause is portable, hot, humid weather. There's little you can do (short of pill popping - been there) to get out of that situation. Now when I exercise during the summer heat (in central, often foggy, coastal California!) and I sweat buckets I feel I'm getting 3 times the workout.
    If I lived anywhere else, I have no idea how I would cope.

  29. I live in middle Georgia and the thing I've found that helps the most is to run through the neighbors' sprinklers! The neighbors may not appreciate it much, but most of them just laugh. Of course if I'm going somewhere important, like work, I can't do that, so my advice would be to move veeerrryy slowly, and definitely crack the windows in your car. :)

  30. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, and let me tell you...there are no tricks, no methods, no way around it...its hot, sticky, wet and it sucks!!! The one and only thing I can advise, is jump in a pool! And sometimes, even then the water is hot...like your swimming in... never mind!

    Its rough just getting in your car to drive to the gym. You crank uo the AC, and its like a dragon is breathing fire in your face until it cools.

    Thats not even the worse part... do you know what humidity does to your just blow-dried & flat ironed hair?!?!? Poof! Afro -city! I given up on my hair in the summers.

    Sure, come vacation in Sunny Ft. Lauderdale, the arm pit of HELL! =)

    OK- that was dramatic! But, do you get the picture? =)

  31. Totally know what you mean. Winnipeg isn't very humid and when I first went to Costa Rica (we were in the rainforest region too) the weather was such a huge change! I'm not a big fan of the hot & wet combo.

  32. And Crabby? Suuuuuure you can exercise without coffee.
    Drink tea, like me :)

    The question is: can you function in a caffeine-free existence?

  33. Work out, hell--I'd like to be able to get ready for work without my upper lip perspiring...

    I either do a weight circuit in the morning at the gym and go for a run late in the evening or run early and hit the gym after work.

    If I'm going to be sweating on my couch I might as well be sweating outside!

  34. You never get used to it, trust me. I've been in NC my whole life and hate the heat and humidity. I exercise inside the air conditioned gym, and I walk my do at 5am and 11pm in the summer. But you can appreciate the occasional breaks in the weather or trips... I'm in New England right now on vacation..NH, and it's nearly 89 or 90, but it feels heavenly to me.

  35. uh.....correction to above comment....that's walk my DOG, not walk my DO.....yikes (but, i do pick up the do)

  36. Last summer, in Hawaii, I would work out in the evenings, when the balmy ocean breeze would blow through. Or early morning. Like, before the sun came up. Or, y'know, IN THE OCEAN, 'cause it's Hawaii!
    When I lived in Massachusetts, I just gave up and joined a gym.

  37. And may I add, after 10 years in Los Angeles, we've now lived in the Bay Area for 2 years, and it is GOOD!!!!! No more waiting until the sun goes down to do yard work! No more stepping outside and into an oven!
    I'd also like to say that my mother grew up in Maryland, and we visited D.C. in the summer when I was little. No wonder politicians are so crabby! I would be too if I had to wear a suit in that kind of humidity!

  38. I have no advice, but plenty of sympathy. As someone born, raised and planning to STAY in Southern California, I TOTALLY have Pleasant Weather Entitlement Syndrome (I'm so stealing that phrase, btw!). I remember being at my uncle's house in GA one really hot, humid summer. I got out of the shower, dried off and thought, "Wha? I SWEAR I remembered my back." So I dried it again. And then again. And then again. And then I realized that I COULDN'T STOP SWEATING. Grossest. Thing. Ever.

  39. it is pretty miserable where I live as well. When I was training for a marathon, I had to be out the door by 4:30 to avoid the scorching heat and humidity. It made for a very long day, but was the only way I could get it done.

    I was finishing as the sun came up and made sure to run thru every sprinkler system around!

  40. I've lived most of my life on the Gulf Coast and I don't feel like I've gotten a proper workout if I don't come home dripping.

    That said, yes, it's uncomfortable. Miserable. All you can do is drink plenty of water, try to time your workouts for very early or very late, and be sure to replace electrolytes if your workout is long and/or strenuous.

  41. Wow, reading all those comments and I complain when the humidity gets above 45%! Which it has been doing more frequently of late. Of course the drugs that make me sweat and the ones that are killing my estrogen are not helping - my personal humidity level is quite high these days.

  42. #6 definitely. That's what I usually do, at least! ;)

  43. heh.

    I have lived in Missouri (Misery) all my life. Our summers are humid, especially August.

    When I was pregnant and had a job that required me to be outdoors a lot, in August, big as a whale, the only thing that kept me from melting was chewing ice all day long and sometimes a cool towel on the back of my neck. I'd just leave it there 'til it dried out.

    Hope that helps. Good luck. :)

  44. Ha, April -- I'm in big MO, too. And yes, it can get nasty humid. Almost like you're swimming outside.

    I pop in an exercise DVD. Saves gas and time, and it's nice and cool in the AC. :)

  45. I live in kansas city, so we get our fair share of humidity.

    I don't know what I'm going to do when I have rowing practice 5 days a week- outside! at least it's in the morning??

  46. LOL...you have no idea...try living in Houston, where walking from my back door to the car puts me in a sweat.

    Summer is definitely meant for being inside. In a nice, cool, air conditioned room.

    You never acclimate. You run, you sweat, you then spend the time until your next run trying to hydrate again.

  47. Shanna's comment about sums it up for New Orleans too... people tell me I will get used to it; it will even grow on me.... I'm thinkin'... maybe ALGAE will grow on me in the humidity if I go outside for too long.

  48. Have I ever. Welcome to the Japanese summer!

    I stepped out of my AC'd bedroom the other day, and my glasses fogged up!

    Just standing on the train makes sweat drip ever-so-slowly down my back. Someone throw a snowball at me, please. Or 500.

    Oh, and because the Japanese are intent on saving energy (kudos, BUT!) - many businesses and gov offices keep the office temperature at 28C (82F)!!! What I wouldn't give for a chilly office, some days. I ask you - what's the point of AC if it's not to keep an office cool?!

  49. I live in southwest Ohio, where we have plenty of heat and humidity. Air conditioning is my friend.

    A few years ago, some relatives came into town from Colorado for my brother's graduation. My aunt's ankles swelled up to the point where she could barely walk, and I had to go pick up my uncle early one morning from a failed jog. The man has finished several marathons and still couldn't make it five miles in our humidity. 7 AM.

    As far as my workouts, if I can only get outside when it's particularly nasty, I figure I'm going to get drenched anyway, so I've actually put a damp t-shirt in the freezer for a few minutes before I go out. It's not pleasant at first, but it works.

  50. I just about died when I spent a summer in Atlanta. I was just not used to the concept of getting out of the shower and being wet the rest of the day. There's something wrong with that.

    I live in Phoenix, and while the summers aren't a picnic, at least I can dry off.

  51. "The question is: can you function in a caffeine-free existence?"

    I have a friend that can.

    She quit caffeine entirely while she trained for her black belt, so by the time she tested she was caffeine free with no withdrawal symptoms.

    I love her but I don't see her much.

    OT - Crabby et al, this may not be the advice you expect. But I've lived in several of the joyously humid towns on the eastern seaboard - Hampton, D.C. (nobody mentioned good old Boston in August? Lovely! NOT) and I have discovered a strange way to cope:

    Bikram yoga class.

    You get shut in that room with the heat cranked up to around 105, and you repeat a series of yoga asanas twice for 90 minutes or so.

    Certainly not for everyone. And you HAVE to have a good teacher or things can get ugly.

    But since discovering Bikram, I have found that I can saunter through Florida and cruise the Chesapeake in the evening in pantyhose, and still retain something resembling a sense of humor -- 'cause nothing, NOTHING, beats the heat of Bikram class.

  52. I live in sunny Australia. Its very hot and going for a run during a hot summers day is very dangerous as we have many snakes where i live. I recommend exercising in the morning or at night when it isnt so hot. Also its important to keep up the fluids.

  53. I live in southern Texas (born and raised). I never "got used" to the heat. I do, however, spend lots of money on electricity bills (for the A/C), and only exercise indoors (during the hot days of summer). Those folks who run outside are just nuts!

  54. Crabby, get yee to Hawaii and enjoy our gentle tradewinds!

  55. I'm a hot weather wimp, too. Perhaps, though, for good reason. This morning, when I went to run at 7:15, it was 72° and 81% humidity. I ran 11 miles and lost about 5.5 pounds -- and I had drunk 28 oz of water/gatorade just before and during the run. This time of year, I can count on losing at least 0.5 # per mile. I DON'T like it at all.

  56. Since I currently live in the DC metro area, I can attest that living here can be quite hellacious in the summer. July and August are usually the worst. I've been able to get around it by going running later at night, once the sun goes down, and also going to the gym more often for cardio (which is NOT my first option).

  57. Here in Utah, we have dry heat. It gets terribly hot, but still it's dry. When I went to Korea last year in August, I thought surely I would die. The only relief was a cold shower, then you would walk out and never really dry off. It made everything lotion and make up just flat out gross. And running there was sheer torture, nothing short of taking a sweat bath. YUCK!!

  58. That's one reason why I like living in the prairies...it gets super hot, but rarely muggy.

    I lived in Vancouver and Ontario for summers and man...how people deal with muggy humid heat is beyond me.

    It's why I like running in the mornings...cool and crisp and lovely.


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