Summer is a fabulous season for exercising in the great outdoors. You don’t have to worry about freezing your toes by jogging through a snowdrift or slip-sliding away on a sheet of black ice. Plus, longer days mean more time for squeezing in your workout before or after work without needing to do so in the dark
However, you need to contend with weather that’s sometimes downright sultry. Here are five tips to stay safe while exercising in the summer heat.
1. Pick The Right Duds
The good news about summer workouts? You don’t have to bundle up like Ralphie’s kid brother in “A Christmas Story” to venture forth into the frozen elements. You might need a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt if you run or walk in the predawn hours, but you don’t have to fear frostbite.
However, you need duds that help you stay cool and sun-safe. Choose fabrics with moisture-wicking abilities that let your sweat absorb for maximum cooling. It’s worth the extra few dollars to invest in clothes tailored for working out over street gear in terms of sun safety. A cotton T-shirt may have an ultraviolet protection factor of 5, whereas most athletic clothing rates 50 UPF.
2. Protect Your Skin
Chances are, you’ll still have plenty of exposed skin outside of your exercise gear. Picking the right sunscreen is vital. Should you go with a chemical or mineral formulation? Some people express concerns about potential adverse health effects from the former, and such creams can sting if you sweat and it runs into your eye. Plus, mineral sunscreens offer immediate protection, whereas chemical formulations take a while to absorb — an important factor if you lather up right before heading out.
Whichever formulation you choose, you should coat all exposed areas. Are you taking your yoga practice outside? Please don’t forget your feet — you could end up burning the tops if you otherwise keep them enclosed in shoes. You should reapply coverage every two hours, more often if you work up a heavy sweat while training for that marathon.
3. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can devastate your athletic performance. Worse, it can turn deadly. Fortunately, you should realize you feel thirsty long before trouble hits, but it’s easy to overlook how parched you become in the summer heat.
It’s tough to tell how much to drink — it depends on factors like weight, heart and respiration rate, external and internal temperature and exertion levels. However, a good rule of thumb is to consume seven to ten ounces of water for each 10 to 20 minutes of exercise.
Drink up before you leave and carry hydration with you if you plan on being out for more than 15 minutes. You can find bike mounts, camelbacks and belts to make transporting liquids easier while keeping your hands free.
4. Time It Right
You might need to switch up your workout time if you’re an evening person. The heat of the day often lingers until well after sundown. The coolest hours occur just after dawn, but the earlier sunrise helps you squeeze in fitness before work.
If at all possible, exercise during the earliest hours, rather than exercising in the summer heat. If you must work out after work, consider waiting until after sundown and using the buddy system if you don’t feel comfortable walking or biking alone in the dark. Meeting a pal does double duty, helping you stick to your program.
5. Learn The Signs Of Heat-Related Illness
Your biggest danger while exercising in the summer heat is heat-related illness. Learn to recognize the signs and take immediate action to prevent permanent harm:
- Heat rash – This skin condition consists of itchy, raised red bumps caused by sweat trapped in your glands. It generally clears up on its own, although you should seek care if it lasts longer than a few days or gets worse.
- Heat cramps – These occur when you lose too many electrolytes through sweat. Treatment includes hydrating and resting, opting for drinks like Gatorade to replace lost minerals.
- Heat exhaustion – This condition causes quick, shallow breathing, heavy sweating and thirst, muscle cramps, headaches and irritability, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, loss of coordination, an elevated temperature and heart rate and weak pulse. If you experience any of these symptoms while exercising in the summer heat, please stop immediately, get to a shaded area and wet your clothes and skin to encourage cooling and rehydrate. Call 911 if your symptoms don’t improve after a few minutes in cooler conditions.
- Heat stroke – This condition is a medical emergency. You may have a quick, strong pulse, feel extremely dizzy and lose consciousness. Your skin becomes hot and dry and you cease sweating. If you notice any symptoms, please get out of the sun and call 911 immediately — delaying care can mean organ failure and death.
Stay Safe While Exercising In The Summer Heat
Summer is perhaps the best season for outdoor workouts. While the weather cooperates, you must deal with the heat.
Follow the above tips to stay safe while exercising in the summer heat. You can torch calories and tone muscle without getting too hot and bothered.