If you haven’t already, it’s time to take your workouts outdoors. Exercising outdoors is a superb opportunity to enjoy the immense pleasures of summer. No need to stare at the same four walls any longer. You are not a cooped up hamster. It’s time to spread your wings, inhale some fresh air and enjoy exercise (and life) as it was meant to be – al fresco. Exercising indoors is good, but exercising out of doors, as nature intended, is better. Exercising outside is more testing and natural than working out in a gym, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamin D, boost your levels of serotonin, and most importantly it’s soothing for the soul.
Alas, everything has a downside. As wonderful as it is, exercising in the sun and heat of summer places extra stress on your body. The workout itself and the high temperatures act to increase your core body temperature. Therefore, you must take extra precautions when you exercise in hot weather. Though summer can get hot and humid, it also equals longer days, which means you can workout early or late to avoid the heat of day.
So before you rush outside, optimize your hot-weather workouts and take the following precautions to exercise smart and safe in the heat of the sun.
To keep as cool as possible wear workout gear that’s lightweight, breathable, loose, and to reflect the heat, light in color. Ideally choose clothing with vents or mesh. Go for workout clothes made from a synthetic material with high “wicking” properties. Cotton, while cool and cheap, once wet keeps you wet, can lead to chafing, becomes heavy and is just generally uncomfortable. In contrast, wicking materials direct sweat away from your skin so cooling evaporation can occur, keeping you cooler and drier. Some summer workout gear may also have sunscreen-treated fabrics. As the weather gets hotter, ditch the cotton in favor of more technical wicking materials – that includes your running socks.
During hot weather it’s important that you keep your body hydrated. Aim to drink water before, during and after your workout. An easy way to check you’re hydrating effectively is to look at the color of your urine. If your urine is light yellow or colorless, it’s likely that you’re staying well hydrated. However, if your urine is dark yellow or amber, you’re likely to be dehydrated. When exercising outdoors, keep a water bottle close to hand to rehydrate. If you get very hot, you can also use it to splash some water on your body to help you cool down.