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Why cities are hotter than rural areas, and how to cope

New York City Skyline

 (Reuters)

“You must be used to the heat, having lived in Texas,” people say, brushing off complaints that I am wilting, melting, and otherwise miserable in the New York City summer. To which I reply that in Texas, there is never a need to walk more than a few hundred feet from one air-conditioned vehicle or building to another. In New York? Not so much.

Also true: it actually is hotter in the city. In fact, new research from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies published in the journal Nature explains that in cities, heat is “efficiently” released back into the lower atmosphere through a process called convection (yes, the technology that makes ovens tick). Add to that the heat given off by buildings and parking lots, which are apparently the perfect little heat storage boxes, and city dwellers experience as much as a 5-degree bump in average daily temperatures. And it’s not just in New York--the urban heat effect is actually greatest in humid southern cities like Atlanta and Nashville.

MORE: 6 Natural Ways To Stay Cool This Summer

What’s the worst that could happen? Aside from making you look like a total mess, heat exposure can bump your body’s temperature into heat exhaustion territory. While symptoms like fainting, vomiting, and headaches are red flags that you have the condition (and need to get medical attention), you can avoid getting to that point in the first place by heading to a cool spot and hydrating at the first hint of adverse heat effects: dizziness, weakness, or fatigue, says Jake Deutsch, MD, founder and clinical director of CURE Urgent Care center in New York.

MORE: How To Prevent Heatstroke

His other smart moves:
• Stay inside as much as possible during the afternoon--the sun is at its highest at 1 pm during the height of summer, but its heat continues to dissipate until as late as 5 pm.
• Wear light, breathable clothing to allow sweat to evaporate and, if you really want to make sure you’re covered, wear a large-brimmed hat, which can lower the temperature around your head by 10°, Deutsch says.

Watch this weight loss workout video to help you cool off and stretch.

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