Summer sunshine is the perfect reason to take your workout out of the gym and into the great outdoors. At the same time, the prospect of sweating buckets when it’s hot as the surface of the sun and ten times as humid can be less than appealing. But with common sense and few simple tricks, you can take full advantage of the season and make some great memories to hold you over when the snow starts falling again.
Get your doctor’s okay.
Turning into a puddle may sound like a great way to shed some excess weight but you should check in with your doc, especially if you are new to fitness, or have any conditions that might complicate working out outdoors. Give yourself time to acclimate to the heat even if you’re a well-honed machine during cooler months. Start slowly, both in terms of how long you exercise outdoors each day, but also begin your workouts at a lower level than you would on a more temperate day so you can better track how you feel as you increase intensity.
Dress the part.
Wear breathable material such as dry fit workout gear made of a wicking fabric rather than cotton. Keep it light colored, lightweight and loose fitting. Remember to slather on the SPF even on cloudy days to prevent sunburn and skin cancer down the road, but leave off the hat – losing heat through your head is a great thing in the summer!
Time it strategically.
Factor in both air quality and the heat index as well as temperature and humidity. These are all at their highest during the bulk of the day, making mornings and evenings a better time to work out outside. Try before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. And there are days when it is just better to stay inside. If the temp is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or the air quality/humidity/heat index are oppressively bad, it’s a good day to stay air-conditioned.
Have a drink.
Sorry, not that sort, at least not when you’re working out. (What you do after you’ve worked out and rehydrated adequately is a different matter. We’ll meet you at the pub!) Health guidelines recommend 17-20 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise, 7-10 ounces every ten minutes during exercise and 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost after exercise. Make sure to bring your own if you’ll be away from convenient water sources and switch it up with sports drinks and coconut water if you’ll be training for more than an hour.
Heed the danger signs. Extreme heat isn’t the time to push through pain. Heatstroke can be fatal, so use common sense and recognize these key signals:
- Headache or intense heat sensation in your head
- Confusion or dizziness
- Loss of muscle control or muscle cramps
- Oversweating then not sweating
- Cold or hot flashes
- Vomiting or stomach cramps
If you do experience any of the above, call 911 and cool off any way you can until help arrives. (Helllooo, fountain diving!)
Stay safe, have fun and see you in the sun!