How to Stay Cool While Exercising in the Summer Heat
Each time summer arrives, you're probably ready to escape the confines of your gym to start exercising outside. Exercising outdoors is a great way to keep your routine fresh and new. However, summer weather conditions can affect your ability to exercise. Before you head out the door, take a few precautions to protect yourself from common summer ailments, including dehydration and heat stroke.
Watch the Weather
Planning your workouts around the weather will ensure that you're not outside during the hottest part of the day. With your smartphone or computer, you can easily find an hourly forecast for your area. If the forecast calls for a very hot afternoon, your best bet is to exercise in the morning. On particularly hot days, the temperature simply won't drop fast enough to let you exercise safely in the evening.
Don't forget to check on the air quality as well. In some areas, smog and other air problems can turn your workout into an agonizing chore. On bad air quality days, you may need to just stay inside.
Don't be too quick to start exercising outdoors after a winter of indoor exercise. When the temperatures start to warm, exercise only in small bursts at the beginning. Once you've grown accustomed to the warmer summer temperatures, you can start replicating your usual routine outside.
Water Bottles and More
Bring Plenty of Water
Water is your best friend during summer workouts. Failing to bring enough water on your run or bike ride could result in serious health complications. Fortunately, you don't have to lug around a giant jug to take enough water. These days, you can find a number of water containers designed for people on the go. If you love to ride your bike, be sure to install a water bottle cage or holder onto your bike's frame. Runners, walkers and hikers can use belts with water bottle holders. Think fanny packs, but with a bit more style.
Finally, outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of water reservoirs that you can carry on your back. These handy tools include a tube that you can keep close to your mouth, allowing you to take a drink while you're pounding up a tough hill.
Regardless of how you choose to pack your water, keep drinking throughout your activity. Even if you don't feel particularly thirsty, you should take a sip about every 15 minutes.
Bring a Snack
Although water is essential for a hot summer day, don't forget to bring some food. An empty stomach and a touch of dehydration could lead to an unfortunate bout of sickness. Bring along a few handfuls of nuts or a fruit snack to help keep your stomach satisfied without overdoing it.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
During a hot summer day, the sun will prove to be quite the foe. To avoid damaging your skin and increasing your chance of skin cancer, you need to protect your skin. If possible, wear light layers to cover your skin. A wide-brimmed hat will keep your face protected. If it's too hot to wear long sleeves comfortably, use sunblock religiously. Take an extra bottle with you if you're planning a long adventure.
Invest in Summer Workout Clothes
Sweatpants and sweatshirts may work great as exercise attire during the winter. In the summer, however, such attire may make you pass out before you reach the end of your driveway. If you don't already have exercise clothes designed for warm conditions, get some. Good exercise attire is made of lightweight materials and wicks away sweat from your body.
Shorten or Slow Down Your Routine
Adjusting your usual workout can help you stay cool during a hot day. Try breaking your routine into smaller pieces. You can go for a short run in the morning and follow it up with a vigorous walk in the evening. Alternatively, you can exercise for the usual amount of time at a slower pace. You won't heat up too quickly, and you'll still get a good workout.
Choose Your Adventure Wisely
Some outdoor activities just aren't appropriate on extremely hot days. Hiking through Arches National Park on the hottest day of the year in the middle of the afternoon is just unwise. If you can't possibly move your activities to the morning or the evening, find a cooler alternative, such as a hike on a tree-lined trail or a swim at a community pool. Your air-conditioned gym will also welcome you back with open arms.
Understand Your Limits
Knowing your limits is a good way to protect yourself from injury and dehydration. If you feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately. If you're training hard for a special event, it's tempting to keep fighting through the pain. However, you run the risk of seriously hurting yourself if you push yourself too much.
Sometimes, the weather conditions just aren't conducive for an outdoor workout. On those days, you just might have to force yourself back into the gym to complete your workout.
Learn the Signs of Heat Illnesses
Too much time spent in the summer sun with little water or protection can result in a range of heat illnesses. From dehydration to the more severe heat stroke, these conditions can become serious. Before you head out for a run on a warm summer day, you need to learn about the signs of these heat illnesses. If you experience any of the following symptoms, get inside to a cool area immediately:
- Lack of sweat
- Quick and shallow breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
In serious cases, you may need medical attention. Take your cellphone with you on all of your outdoor adventures. If you get in trouble, call for help. You can also consider exercising with a friend or family member to help you stay safe during your summer workouts.
Few people want to run on a treadmill in a gym when the weather is beautiful and warm. A little effort and preparation will help you make the most of your outdoor workout and stay hydrated at the same time.