There’s a lot to love about summer weather, except when you try to exercise in it.
Provided you live in a region of the country that heats up significantly this time of year, it’s important to keep up your workout routine but still take precautions to make sure you stay safe and still exercise effectively.
If you want an outdoor workout, it may require modifying the time you train during the day, the amount of preparation, your type of activity or even the clothing you wear or the equipment you carry.
But there can be plenty of benefits, starting with not having to worry about ice or snow like in the winter. There’s better scenery, certainly, rather than being stuck in the gym or your favorite cooler-weather workout spot.
Plus, Outside tells us that the body actually can perform better in higher heat especially when perspiration is involved. Plasma count rises, which can increase skeletal force and increase oxygen delivery to muscles. It is suggested, however, that you slowly acclimate to exercise in higher temperatures to receive these benefits rather than performing the exact same spring or fall workout, since heat training can be tougher on the body if you’re not physically and mentally prepared.
Although conventional fitness wisdom tells us that you burn more calories in the heat and remove more toxins from your body, recent research says this claim isn’t necessarily accurate. But there’s still some value.
For those who enjoy fitness, try these strategies:
Stay hydrated. While most of us know this is important, there can be confusion on how much extra water we should be drinking compared to a cooler day, or not active. Here, expert opinions vary but the conclusion is “a lot,” and preferably before, during and after your workout. It prepares your body, replenishes lost fluids, reduces the risk of heat-based health conditions and dehydration, and promotes healing. As a general rule of thumb, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests calculating your average daily amount of water by multiplying your weight by .5. Then, add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes you plan to exercise. Other experts say water isn’t enough, and better hydration should include electrolytes, sodium, and sugar.
Watch for warning signs. Your body can give you all sorts of indications that you’re overheating, which can lead to a variety of heat-related illnesses ranging from minor heat cramps to heat stroke. Fatigue, dizziness, nausea, confusion or irritability are all indicators that your body temperature is dangerously rising. Sometimes relief is as simple as taking a break in a cool place with perhaps cool towels but medical care may be needed if a condition becomes more critical.
Protect yourself from the sun. A hat is a must for sunny hikes, runs or bike rides. Consider exercising at times when the sun isn’t as high, especially the middle of the day. If your routine allows it, exercise earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Sunscreen also helps block UV rays, especially something that’s sweat-resistant, skin-friendly and SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreen won’t block heat but can prevent nasty sunburns, reduce cancer risk, and even decrease skin damage like wrinkles.
Carry more. Extra water, sports drink or even ice packs can be handy accessories in a light backpack if you’re planning a longer outing, such as bike ride. Unless you’re in the military or training for it, you don’t necessarily need something heavy, like a full ruck, but you can consider Camelbak products, that include cooling backpacks, vests, gloves and other items.