The heat always seems to be rising in the tropics.
Toss in elevating humidity levels and you have a potent combo for heating up your meat suit.
High temps plus stifling humidity means taking care of your body to avoid dehydration or fatigue.
How to Keep Cool in the Tropics
I am adept at keeping cool, hydrated and energized. I need to be hyper aware of remaining cool since I exercise often – for extended periods – as I globe trot throughout the tropics.
Follow these 3 tips to keep cool in the tropics when the heat is on.
I drink 2-3 glasses of water on waking.
Prep your body to sweat.
Folks in tropics usually drink too late, downing water when thirsty. Not good. Hydrate early. Get your pregame on, when waking.
As temps rise your coolant system works swimmingly, allowing perspiration to cleanse your being and cool you off.
Aim for 8 tall glasses of water daily. But if you live in humid conditions bump it up. 10 to 12 daily to ensure your body sweats adequately.
Replace fluids lost.
Get your pre hydration game on.
Drinking early and often gives you much need moisture for sweating it out in hot, humid conditions. Beat the heat. Pre-hydrate to allow your natural coolant system – sweating – to work effectively.
Kelli and I either run or walk early morning or evening to avoid the blistering hot temps from late morning to late afternoon.
Locals do the same.
Avoid doing anything from 10 AM to 5 PM.
The tropics are high sun places, meaning these regions see max sun conditions from a little before noon to mid afternoon. Locals and smart travelers hit the road and do stuff early morning and early to late evening.
Hit tourist spots on the open. Most places open between 8 and 9 in the morning. Take advantage of the early window. Do less sweating and more enjoying.
Be flexible. Old, rigid me demanded to work out at specific points of the day. But spending time in hot and humid places like Panama goaded me to exercise early in the morning to capitalize on cooler temperatures. I could never escape humid conditions in Panama. But at least I could work out early in the day to take advantage of cooler temps.
Working out late at night allows your body to cool down as the earth’s cooling effect comes into play. The tropics seem to be magnets for absorbing a max amount of heat. However, night time temps usually drop in areas rich with jungle because the absorbed heat gets released from the earth to migrate skyward. As the heat heads for the skies the ground level becomes far cooler in most tropical settings.
Run when it is cool to beat the heat.
3: Add Salt Please
Many in the West worry about salt consumption.
But in the tropics beware losing high levels of salt through sweating profusely.
Back when I originally wrote this post in the sauna known as Chiang Mai during the hot season. I downed a bag of potato chips and also sprinkled salt on my pork fried rice to raise my electrolyte levels.
Down water to keep hydrated. Add a pinch or 2 more salt to dishes to ensure your sodium levels stay sufficient in hot, humid places. Or in plain hot places like Chiang Mai during high season.
Check with your doctor if you have hypertension or other medical conditions that could be agitated by increased salt consumption.
I know; sounds mad. Westerners traipse around Thailand in shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. But locals show ya how to handle heat and humidity; by covering up.
I’ve yet to go full Thai but threw out my tank tops years ago in favor of T-shirts. No more shoulder sun burn. No more roasting my shoulders and upper arms in the sun, baking, raising my core body temperature.
I even wear sweat pants and sweat shirts riding the bike around Chiang Mai sometimes. In Phuket I may don a light colored long sleeved shirt during long rides.
Covering your skin cools you off; no direct sun on covered bodily real estate means a cooler body temperature if cloths are loose fitting and light in color.
Southeast Asians in particular cover up with long pants and long sleeved shirts or jackets. These folks know how to keep cool in the tropics.
Covering up in hot places takes some Western re-conditioning for all of us folks from places like the USA because we want to strip naked to cool off in hot spots. However, covering the skin actually cools off your body. Blocking the sun feels more comfortable versus roasting your body with shorts, shirt and way too much sun.
I suggest taking baby steps in this regard. Perhaps wearing a baggy long-sleeved shirt feels like a good first step toward covering up. Keep your shorts for now. Perhaps you decide to graduate to cool, baggy pants along with a comfortable long sleeve shirt. At the very least, stop roasting your body for hours on end at the beach or while motorbiking around Thailand if you intend to cool down. Getting less sun lowers your overall body temperate.
Chill out by not staying out in the sun for hours.
Cover up a little bit to facilitate the process.
Be mindful about lowering your body temperate.
Drink like a fish. Work out during early morning or late evening hours. Cover up.
Beat the heat in the tropics.