I am not a fan of exercising outside in the summer. The combination of heat and humidity is enough to make me want to stay indoors. Being sweaty, hot, and uncomfortable before I start my workout? No thank you.
But, alas, I’m a runner who refuses to give up her favorite hobby during the warm weather months. Through research and a lot of trial and error, I’ve found some ways to make summer exercise a bit more bearable.
Being physically active in hot weather can cause more than just discomfort, though. Working out in the heat can be dangerous, too, if you don’t take proper precautions.
Follow these tips to stay cool- and safe!- during your summer workouts:
- Sweat while the sun is down. The coolest time of day to exercise is during the early morning or late evening hours, when the sun isn’t up. Avoid midday workouts when temperatures are at their highest and the sun’s hot rays are at their peak.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Sunburn gets in the way of your body’s ability to cool itself. Make sure you always cover yourself with an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher thirty minutes before you head outside. Also, grab a hat and sunglasses to keep your face shielded from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Stay hydrated. Taking in plenty of fluids is one of the secrets to avoiding dangerous heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion and dehydration. Drink up before you’re thirsty because the thirst sensation doesn’t appear until we’re already slightly dehydrated. Drink a cup or two of water before you head out to exercise, sip on more liquids every fifteen minutes of activity, and keep hydrating once your workout ends. If you exercise at a high intensity or for a long time, drink a sports beverage. These types of beverages replenish the salt and other electrolytes lost through sweat.
- Rest early and often. Take plenty of rest and water breaks whenever you need them.
- Ease into summer workouts. According to experts, it takes our bodies 10 to 14 days to get used to exercising in a new climate. When the mercury starts rising, only exercise for short time, at a low intensity. Long, hard workouts can wait until you’re better acclimated to the hot, humid weather.
- Wear light clothing. Dress in light-weight and light colored clothing during your workouts. Moisture-wicking clothes will help you stay much cooler and dryer than clothing made of cotton, for instance. Lighter colored clothes help reflect heat better than darker clothes.
- Find shade. Temps tend to be lower in the shade. Take up trail running, play tennis on a shaded court, and only do long workouts on cloudy days.
- Take up swimming. The summer is the perfect time to get your feet wet. Swimming is an excellent, non-impact form of exercise that’s especially refreshing during the summer months. If you don’t have a neighborhood pool or access to a body of water, consider joining a local aquatics center or a gym that has an indoor or outdoor pool.
- Listen to the weather man. Do not be active outside on the hottest days. If there’s a heat advisory, play it safe and stay indoors or take an extra rest day.
- Head inside. The treadmill becomes my best friend on hot days. When it’s a scorcher out, it’s best to stick with indoor workouts. Exercising in an air-conditioned environment, like a gym or your home, is much more enjoyable than working out in triple-digit, outdoor temperatures.
- Know when to call it quits. Heat-related illness can be life-threatening. If you have muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, and/ or confusion, stop your workout right away.