You’ve waited all winter for the weather to warm up. Now that it has, the sweltering temperatures are forcing you back indoors. Instead of retreating to your comfortable air-conditioned abode, venture out into the heat.
Exercising outdoors during the dog days of summer can have numerous advantages. The heat can improve your fitness level by challenging your body and mind. It can also increase your tolerance to heat, making future outdoor workouts more tolerable.
Of course, you don’t want to set out into scorching weather without taking the proper precautions. When the temperatures near three-digits, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are your enemies. Follow these tips for exercising in the heat safely this summer.
While it’s common sense to dress in light clothing during summer workouts, there’s more to it than that. When it’s hot and humid, your basic shorts and tee won’t do.
Turn in your everyday summer attire for weather-appropriate athletic wear. Moisture-wicking materials are ideal, as they contain tiny tubes that absorb moisture to prevent sweat from sticking to your skin.
For your base layer, opt for synthetic-based fibers as they are lightweight and easy to clean. If you prefer a natural material, bamboo is breathable, soft and repels odors. Nylon and polypropylene are also popular due to their water-resistant nature and ability to contour comfortably to the male or female form.
We all know the benefits of drinking plenty of water, but when it comes to summer workouts, water can be lifesaving. When you work out in hot temperatures, you lose a lot of body moisture in the form of sweat. In fact, the average person sweats between 0.8 and 1.4 liters per hour during exercise – and that’s in normal conditions.
Experts recommend drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercising, followed by another 8 ounces during your warm-up. Down another 7 to 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, and then 8 more ounces about 30 minutes following your workout.
When determining adequate water intake, you’ll also want to consider replenishing your electrolyte and salt intake. A sports drink can get the job done in a pinch.
Take It Slow
New to outdoor summer workouts? Remember to take it slow. Until you become more accustomed to exercising in heated conditions, you’ll want to limit your time in the sun.
Begin by performing mini-workouts, consisting of just 10 to 15 minutes. Over the weeks, slowly add time outdoors. In addition to increasing your time outside, you’ll also want to gradually increase the volume and intensity of your workouts. For example, start by walking along your usual route, then slowly transition to jogging and eventually running.
The key is to not overexert yourself. If your usual workout is too demanding in the heat, dial it down to something more manageable.
Avoid Peak Hours
If you really want to get healthier, you have to make fitness a priority in your life. That means putting aside a block of time each day to work out – no excuses.
When scheduling your daily workout, think practical. Don’t hit the pavement during mid-day peak hours when the sun is at its hottest, which is typically between noon and 6 PM. Instead, save your workout for the early morning or late evening.
By saving your workouts for the earlier or later parts of the day, your exercise session will be more comfortable and you’ll lower your risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Exercising in normal conditions can quickly lead to exhaustion and fatigue. When you work out in the heat, these side effects are often magnified.
When you need to power through a workout, depend on healthy snacks for energy. Dry snacks like nuts, crackers or energy bars are fine for normal conditions, but when you’re facing high outdoor temperatures, opt for something a bit juicer.
Fresh fruits are fantastic snacks for when the weather is hot. Not only are you consuming an abundance of essential nutrients, you’re also hydrating your body with the fruit’s replenishing juices.
Need ideas? Try watermelon, mango, pineapple, nectarines, or peaches. Yum.
Slather on Sunscreen
While there’s a slew of information regarding sun safety out there, many people still do not fully understand the dangers of UV rays. Any tan is a bad tan. The darkening of the skin is essentially the body’s response to damage.
Sunscreen is critical for keeping your skin safe while you exercise outdoors. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen between 30 and 50 for optimal coverage. Rub about 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen on all exposed skin approximately 20 minutes before going outdoors to allow plenty of time for the product to ‘soak’ in.
Remember that you’re going to sweat, so apply liberally. If you’re working out away from home, bring a bottle of sunscreen with you and reapply as needed.
Break It Up
If you’re not used to exercising outdoors in the summer, you’ll want to start slow. Consider breaking up your exercise routine into several smaller chunks instead of one extended workout session.
Try 30 minutes in the morning, followed by another 30 minutes in the evening. Or break it up even further with three 20 minute sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening.
These small spurts are not only great for people with chaotic schedules and little time to exercise, but also for those looking to exercise in the heat. While it may be too hot to fit in a full hour of running, you can probably power through a 20 minute run.
Check the Forecast
There’s not a cloud in the sky. However, a sunny day doesn’t always mean it’s safe to exercise outdoors. Before spending time outside, check the weather forecast.
If there is a heat advisory, high ozone, or air pollution warning, you may want to limit your exercise to indoor activities.
Not only will it be ultra-uncomfortable to work out in these harsh conditions, you can also harm your body. Pollutants in the air can cause damage to your lungs and the high heat puts you at a higher risk for heat cramps and other heat exhaustion symptoms.
If you want to exercise outside in the summer but don’t like the hot sun beating down on you, seek out a shaded route. Search your area for running or biking routes that are primarily made up of shaded areas, such as public tree-lined parks or wooded land with canopied trees.
Ride your bike along streets or roads with tons of trees for shade, or take a long hike in the woods.
If you can’t find areas that offer sufficient shade, be sure to take frequent breaks. During these breaks, go indoors or find a place to sit and cool down, such as under a tree or in the shadow of a building.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
The heart goes into overdrive when exercising in the heat. In fact, the heart beats about 10 bpm (beats per minute) faster for every degree the body’s internal temperature rises.
Keep an eye on your heart rate by utilizing a heart rate monitor when you work out outdoors. Monitoring your heart rate allows you to better understand how your cardiovascular system responds to dehydration and heat stress, and what tools and treatments work to reverse these ailments.
To obtain the full benefits of a heart rate monitor, you must know what the numbers mean. The highest number is the maximum heart rate (MHR), which is the fastest rate in which your heart beats in one minute.
As you become accustomed to a certain type of exercise, your maximum heart rate will gradually lower, as well as your resting heart rate.
Take a Dip
Just too hot to exercise outdoors? Beat the heat by taking a dip at the pool or beach. Swimming is a fun and effective way to cool off and work out at the same time, and best of all, time spent in the water doesn’t even seem like work.
Did you know that swimming is actually a full-body workout? It keeps your heart rate up while taking stress off your body. It helps you to build endurance, cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. It builds strength and tones muscles. It also helps you to support a healthy heart and lungs, as well as maintain a healthy weight.
Grab a Workout Buddy
Having a workout buddy is not just beneficial for when boredom strikes, it can also be advantageous to your health.
If you start to feel the effects of heat poisoning, having a friend by your side can ensure that you quickly get the treatment you need. Your workout buddy may even see the signs of heat exhaustion before you do.
Having a workout buddy is especially important if you’re exercising in an area that you’re not familiar with. The last thing you want to do is get sick while all alone in an unfamiliar place.
Know Your Limits
Before traveling out into the heat, do your homework. Do you know the signs of heat exhaustion, and do you think you would recognize them if they happened to you?
Confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and fainting are all common symptoms that can occur when your body overheats. You may also suffer from muscle or abdominal cramps, as well as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
If you start to feel under the weather while exercising outdoors, don’t ignore your body. Immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in a cool room. Drink some water and remove any unnecessary clothing. If possible, cool off in the shower of bath.
Outdoor summer activities are not just limited to jogging and yard work. As long as you’re careful, exercising in the heat can be fun and add variety to your routine. Enjoy the warm summer sun all season long by taking the proper precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses and injuries. Don’t let the sweltering summer temperatures put a snag in your workout routine. Sweat it out and reap the benefits of a healthier, leaner physique.