How to Exercise Safely Outside During the Summer

Posted: May 28, 2021 4:22 pm

With summer right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to keep up your exercise routine as the mercury continues its upward trajectory over the next few months. Here are a few tips on how you can keep cool and enjoy a safe workout even when the temperatures soar.

Time Your Workout Accordingly: The most impactful thing that you can do to enjoy a safe workout is to time it right. The heat will generally be worse during the afternoon hours. You will see the coolest temperatures if you head outside early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun begins to go down.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down if you are heading out during the warmer parts of the day. If you are exercising at dawn or dusk to avoid the heat, it is important to wear bright and reflective clothing.

Get Acclimated: Do not expect that your body is going to perform at optimal levels the first few times that you take your workout outdoors in the heat. Remember that it can take a few weeks for your body to get acclimated to the heat. Start off slow and easy during those first few times out in the heat. Over time, you will be able to increase both the length and the intensity of your workout sessions.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: While it is always important to ensure that you are properly hydrated, this becomes even more important when exercising outside in the heat. Do not wait until you are feeling faint or lightheaded to try to catch up on your hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the exercise even if you do not feel thirsty.

If you are going to be exercising intensely, you may want to consider a sports drink to supplement your water intake. This type of formulation will replace the sodium and potassium that you lose when you sweat heavily. You can also take in more beneficial hydration by eating foods that are high in water content. Smoothies, watermelon, and cucumbers are all good choices.

Choose Appropriate Outdoor Exercise Activities: Rather than fight against Mother Nature, it is a better idea to choose activities that allow you to take advantage of the best parts of summer. There is no better way to exercise in the heat than to swim. Regardless of if you swim in a pool or a lake, you will naturally keep cool while exercising if you are in the water.

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Hiking or biking at higher elevations is another good activity to try during the summer if beating the heat while still working up a sweat is your goal. Or try a sunrise or sunset outdoor yoga session.

Wear Sunscreen: It goes without saying that you should be diligent about sunscreen application even if you are not exercising outdoors. However, this becomes even more important if you are physically active out in the heat. A sunburn decreases your body’s natural ability to cool down in the searing heat, making it harder for you to enjoy your workout safely.

Take it Indoors: If the heat is simply too much, there is no shame in moving your workout indoors. An air-conditioned gym will provide the relief that you are looking for. If you do not belong to a gym, look into walking laps in your nearest indoor mall in the morning hours before the walkways become congested.

Dress Smartly: What you wear when you exercise can have a significant effect on how cool you stay through the duration of your sweat session. Choosing lightweight and loose-fitting clothes is the best option. This will encourage the sweat to quickly evaporate, cooling you off in the process. You should avoid dark colors that absorb heat. A wide-brimmed hat or a sun visor is another good addition to your workout gear.

Warning Signs of Heat-related Illness: Even the best-laid plans can lead to heat illness if you are not careful. These types of heat-related illnesses range from mild inconveniences to life-threatening issues. Heat cramps are the first sign that something may be wrong. From there, the issues become even more severe.

There are a number of signs that you need to be on the lookout for if you think there is any chance that the heat may be too much for you. Red flags include muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, excessive sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, extreme fatigue, low blood pressure, and an increased heart rate.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important that you take immediate steps to lower your body temperature and hydrate. It is even better if you can find someone to stay with you until the symptoms subside. If you do not feel better shortly after cooling off and getting some water, you need to seek immediate medical attention.

With the right precautions and knowledge about heat-related illness, you can make the most out of the long days of summer by enjoying your workout outdoors.