10 tips for conquering summer workouts
Summer is great for a lot of activities, but sometimes the heat can put a damper on your workout ambitions
By Rachel Engel
When the weather warms up, most people take their workouts outside—at least until the heat becomes too unbearable.
Once the temperature hits the triple-digits, it can take all the joy and satisfaction out of getting a run in, and discourage you from wanting to leave the house and brave the heat.
Yes, going for a jog in mild March or crisp September may be more enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely write off those summer months. Use our 10 tips for staying cool in the middle of July, and push your workouts to the next level, no matter what time of year it is
1. Cold showers are your friend
A cold shower before your workout will lower your body temperature and help you prepare for the sweltering heat. Jumping in for a cool rinse after your workout will do the same thing, and help you come down from the intensity of working out under the summer sun.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Drink water. Drink a lot of H20. Hydrate. Did we mention to drink water?
Any time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and in the heat of the summer, that’s a recipe for disaster.
“When you’re working out, you’re more likely to be losing water, both through your breath and through sweat,” Dr. Renee Melton wrote for Web MD. “If you start out dehydrated, you won’t get a good workout. You’ll get dizzy, lethargic, your muscles won’t work as well, you won’t feel as sharp mentally and you’ll get cramps sooner.”
Particularly for those who plan to get a workout in, you should be drinking water all day long. For long runs, consider utilizing a Camelbak, or bringing a water bottle along with you so you can hydrate on the go.
3. Don’t skip the sunscreen
The American Association of Dermatology recommends that a broad spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 15 be applied daily to all sun-exposed areas and then reapplied every two hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Osakabe Yasuo)
You won’t be gone long, just a quick mile or two around the block; the sun won’t even have a chance to burn you.
Depending on your complexion, and the time of day you head out for a run, you can receive sun damage after only a few minutes without any protection. According to Web MD, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so going for an early morning or late evening run is best when you want to avoid those hours that provide the most damage.
4. Wear the right materials
You wouldn’t wear a wool coat to go running in August, but head-to-toe black spandex is probably not the best option either. Choose materials that wick moisture from the skin, as well as deflect the sun as much as possible. Choose light or white clothing, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.
5. Be aware of the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion
Hopefully you will never reach a point during your workouts when you will need to know this information, but if you do, it could save your life.
Heat exhaustion occurs after being exposed to high temperature and without hydrating properly. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
Heat stroke can occur after signs of other heat illnesses, or it can come on without any warning at all. It is the most serious illness relating to the heat that you can be diagnosed with, and if you suspect you could be suffering from a heat stroke, you should seek medical attention right away, as it is considered an emergency. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Lack of sweating
- Red and hot skin
- Shallow breathing
You know your own body, and when working out in the heat, you should make to stay in tune to it at all times.
6. Consider shorter workouts more often
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lewis, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment platoon sergeant, runs through the nature trail at Fort Eustis, Va., May 12, 2015. Lewis is currently training for his 26th marathon, and is more than half way to his goal of running a marathon in each state. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
If you normally go for a run, and follow it immediately with a weight workout (or vice-versa), you may think about splitting up your workouts to allow more recovery time due to the heat.
Run in the morning and then workout with weights in the evening, or at lunch. Or lift weights in the morning and cap off your evening with a run around the neighborhood. Splitting up your workout allows you conserve your energy that would be lost from the sun.
7. Think about your canine friends
There’s nothing more relaxing than going for a run with your four-legged best friend, is there? They make the whole process more enjoyable.
However, you have to remember that Fido is not wearing running shoes to protect his paws from the hot pavement like you are. No matter how excited he gets when you pick up his leash, if the sun has been beating down for a few hours, the sidewalk is going to be scorching, and could seriously damage his paw pads.
If you can’t even imagine going for a run without your pup, then stick to early morning runs, when the cement has had time to cool down from the previous day.
8. Wear a heart-rate monitor
You might think you’re just getting a really good workout in, but your heart could be trying to tell you something else. Using a heart-rate monitor, like a FitBit or Apple Watch, will help you keep tabs on what your body is doing. When you run in the summer, a monitor will help you understand your body and how it differs from your workouts in the fall and winter.
9. Dress appropriately
It’s important to adequately prepare yourself before going for a run in the summer. Wearing the correct materials and bring along water to hydrate along the way is a start, but there are other things you can do to help prep for a summer jog.
- Wear sweatbands to prevent moisture from dripping in your eyes.
- Use sweatbands to hold ice packs against your wrists and neck.
- Wear a hat to keep the sun off your face as much as possible.
10. Know when to say no
Sometimes it really is too hot to run. Check the weather and pay attention to the UV level for the day. If you walk outside and the heat takes your breath away, maybe think about hitting the treadmill to get your run in, instead of the sidewalk.
This article, originally posted on July 11, 2017, has been updated.