Exercising in the summer may feel great, but it also requires that you keep close tabs on the summer heat, and put a plan in place to ensure you stay healthy and safe when the mercury starts to rise. There are ways to complete your daily workout when it’s hot outside while minimizing the risks of exercising in the heat.
Choose the Right Time of Day
It is warmest outside between 11 am and 3 pm, so pick any other time during the day than this four-hour block and you’ll minimize your exposure to excessive heat. If you have the choice between exercising in the morning or waiting until the late afternoon, aim for the earlier timeslot. You’ll find that the mornings will always be a bit cooler than the afternoon, the sun is generally less intense in the morning hours, and the air is often saturated with far fewer pollutants than you’d find during the later hours of the day. Unless your schedule prohibits it, stay away from exercising from 11am-3pm.
Hydrate… and Then Hydrate Some More
There is no replacement for adequate hydration – and the intense heat of the summer puts additional strain on the body that can only be managed through sufficient intake of water, specialty energy drinks, and similar fluids. Start the morning (before you do anything) with a large glass of ice water. Then, make sure you have another glass of water at least 20-30 minutes before you start exercising. Finally, ensure you drink at least 8-12 ounces of water each hour you’re out in the heat (keep drinking until you don’t feel thirsty, even if that ends up being way more than 8-12 ounces). Try to consume some fluids at least every 15 minutes, whether you feel you need it or not. After your workout, drink 16 ounces of cool water to support your cool down phase.
Wear Appropriate Clothing and Gear
You’d never wear a pair of denim jeans, a leather jacket, and heavy biker boots to go on a run, right? That would be crazy! Just as you’d never don such inappropriate clothing during a workout, it is important to realize that there are acceptable workout clothes and ideal workout apparel choices. Visit your local runner’s store and ask for clothing options with fabrics that are lightweight, offer UV protection, wick away moisture, and won’t chafe your skin. Lighter colors help minimize heat absorption, reflective inlays can provide protection when exercising very early or late in the day, and specific fabrics help channel sweat away from the body to help you feel great during a workout.
Always Use Sunscreen
As much as the sun’s rays feel great on the skin, it won’t take long for those good feelings to transform into a sunburn. And a sunburn is one way to ensure you’ll be sitting on the sideline for several days – unable to work out, wincing in pain every time clothing glides across your skin, and most importantly, causing actual damage to your body at a cellular level. To make sure you protect yourself while exercising in the heat of the summer, don appropriate sunscreen, apply it liberally and often, and consider other ways to cover your body to prevent possible sun damage. A hat and sunglasses are a must, too.
Check the Weather Before Going Out
There will likely be times over the summer where you’ll simply have to choose to skip your outdoor summer workout due to the heat. For example, it simply isn’t a safe choice to go for a long run on a 118-degree day in Phoenix – you may end up harming your body and setting yourself back, health-wise, versus simply looking for an alternative way to get in your workout. If there is a heat advisory in the forecast and/or the weather feels extra humid, stay inside or workout very early in the morning. If an ozone alert or pollution advisory is broadcast in your area, don’t try to jog through the plumes of environmental contaminants – stay indoors. You can do real damage to your respiratory system – and after all, there will be plenty of other days to enjoy the great outdoors.
Look for Ways to Work Out Indoors
On those sweltering summer days, prioritize your health and wellness by opting for an indoor workout instead. You can spend time in the sauna, relaxing and stretching your muscles in anticipation of a big workout over the upcoming days. Swim laps in your local pool for a refreshing full-body workout. Or, consider yoga on hot days, do Pilates, or partake in martial arts training or a dance class to get a great summer workout in an air-conditioned environment.
While summer is the season that brings to mind the memorable time spent outdoors and the ideal climate for healthy workouts and exhilarating activities, it is also a time of year that is challenging for those who like to stay in shape. Make sure you stay hydrated, wear the right exercise clothing, heed the weatherman’s warnings, move indoors if necessary, sunscreen up, and pick the right time of day to work out. Do so, and you’ll minimize your chances of negatively impacting your health during a summer workout.