Summer is a great time to get active in the outdoors, but there are certain risks to be mindful of before you work up a sweat. This isn’t just important for warm-weather runners, but also cyclists, hikers, kids on the playground, gardeners, and anyone who enjoys spending time outside. Extreme heat puts a lot of stress on the body, and it’s even more risky if the humidity is high.
Here are some health and safety tips for an active, safe, and healthy summer season.
Check the Weather in Advance
Before you go out for some exercise, check the weather conditions to make good decisions about your exercise routine. If it is especially hot or humid, plan to scale back your workout to a more moderate pace and lighter intensity. If the weather report warms about dangerous conditions, hit the gym instead or try an at-home workout
Embrace Mornings and Evenings
Even on hottest days in the desert, there are opportunities for exercise in the early morning and the evening hours as the sun is finally setting. You may have to adjust your daily routines a bit to accommodate earlier or later workouts, but the shift is worth it to avoid heat-related illnesses.
Choose the Right Workout Attire
What you wear for your summer workout makes a big difference in how well your body can resist heat. Rather than cotton and dark colors, choose light-colored moisture-wicking materials that help keep you cool. Avoid tight-fitting clothing when it’s hot and change clothes after sweating.
Hydrate More Than Usual
Hydration is important during exercise regardless of the weather, but you need even more water than usual while working out in hot weather. Plan to drink about eight to ten ounces of water every half hour while exercising and at least that much after your workout too.
Eat Healthy Snacks for More Energy
To help fuel your hydration even more, choose juicy and fruity snacks rather than dry ones, like crackers or nuts. Some juicy foods to eat around your summer workouts include berries, pomegranates, and tomatoes.
Apply Sunscreen After Sweating
Sunscreen isn’t just for relaxing days at the beach. Sunscreen wears off when you sweat, so make sure to reapply it at least every couple hours while outdoors. An SPF of 30 or higher of a natural, non-toxic sunscreen is recommended.
Take Occasional Breaks
Hot summer days are not necessarily the best times to try to break a personal record or exercise harder or longer than you usually do. Make sure to take breaks when it’s hot outside, especially if you start feeling dizzy. While you’re taking breaks, do some stretches to prevent muscle soreness later on.
Learn the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real possibilities when you’re outside in the summer, so it’s important to know the early warning signs so you can take a break before it’s too late. Heat exhaustion is a milder version of heat stroke and includes symptoms like heavy sweating, muscle cramping, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. However, heat stroke involves body temperatures of 104 degrees or higher and occurs when the skin actually stops sweating and becomes dry and hot rather than cool and moist. Other symptoms of heat stroke are changes in pulse, seizures, and even losing consciousness.