Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and exercise with friends. However, in the summer even the most seasoned athlete needs to take extra precautions when exercising in the heat. You need to be careful to avoid dangers like dehydration, dizziness, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Experts say people who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to stick with their routines, plus it’s a great way to start any day. An AM exercise routine has even more benefits in the summer time, as it can help you avoid the worst of the heat. From 10 – 4, the sun is at its most intense so you should avoid heavy exercise on hot days during those hours.
If you can’t make it first thing in the morning, evening exercise is another great option. It’s a wonderful way to digest the evening’s meal and contemplate the day’s events, it can even help you sleep!
No matter what time of the day you choose to exercise, make sure to pick appropriate activities. If you plan to go for a hike, run or bike ride, look for areas with lots of shady pathways. On the warmest days, seek out a local beach and get in some aquatic exercise like swimming, kayaking, paddle-boarding or even gather a group for some water polo.
If you’re particularly sensitive to the heat, indoor exercise is best on hot days. Most gyms have great AC and you can feel outdoorsy at a climbing gym.
Anytime you’re exercising outdoors during the daytime, wear sunscreen. SPF 45 is always a good bet, and it’s a good idea to carry some lip balm that includes a bit of sunscreen as well. Don’t let a cloudy day fool you – you can still come home with a serious burn.
Those tight, black jogging pants may make your butt look awesome, but they’re not the best for fighting the heat. Stick with lighter-colored loose clothing in lightweight fabrics. If you’re going to be in direct sunlight for a good period of time or if you need to see your best (tennis, anyone?), it’s always a good idea to wear a hat.
No matter what you’re doing, hydration is essential. Always carry a water bottle, or even better wear a CamelBak, to make sure you get plenty of good old H2O. A lot of people are advocates of sugar packed athletic drinks, but nothing hydrates quite like water.
If your workout routine is particularly intense (say, training for a marathon or hardcore rock-climbing) you may need some extra potassium and sodium during your workout. Instead of going for a chemical-stuffed sports drink, try unflavored coconut water. It’s full of all the nutrients you need, plus a kick of natural sugars for extra energy.
When exercising in the heat pay extra attention to your body’s signals. If you start feeling overheated, dizzy or nauseous, don’t try to push through it. Before it gets too intense, take a break in the shade and re-hydrate. Your body has a whole system of warning signs built-in, but they won’t do you any good if you ignore them. By the time you recognize that you’re thirsty, you’re body is already dehydrated.
If it’s particularly warm or you’re sensitive to the heat, take a friend or family member with you when you exercise. It’s not only safer, but it’s motivational and fun!
A lot of the sports-drink hype focuses on electrolytes, and for a good reason. Electrolytes are essential to the healthy function of your body and include things like potassium, sodium and magnesium. After a good workout it is important to balance out your electrolytes, but it’s best to do so in an all-natural way.
Right after your workout, eat a banana and drink a glass of water (don’t eat or drink too fast though) and you’ll start feeling energized right away. A few hours later, eat a meal that contains dark, leafy greens, like kale or spinach, that are loaded with natural electrolytes.
What are you waiting for? Now that you’re armed with these great tips for beating the heat, get outside and get moving!