Working out in the summer can be a lot more fun than in the winter, since you have the option of burning calories outdoors. But you also have to think about how heat and humidity impact your health. We share some expert advice for staying safe, no matter how you choose to get fit outdoors this summer.
We asked Franci Cohen, personal trainer, certified nutritionist and exercise physiologist, for her best tips on exercising safely in the heat this summer.
Dress for the heat
Wearing light-coloured and lightweight clothing that’s made of moisture-wicking fabric is a must for summer workouts. “Steer clear of black clothing or shiny metallic leggings, as these will attract heat and raise your body temp to unsafe highs,” advises Cohen. “Avoid cotton T-shirts and shorts, since they’ll get sweaty, stay damp and make you feel hotter, and wear wicking socks and lightweight sneaks to keep your feet cool and dry and to prevent blisters,” she adds. “Finally, wear a moisture-wicking hat that will keep sweat out of your eyes and protect your head and face from the sun while offering some shade as well.”
Ease into hot outdoor workouts rather than push yourself too hard, too quickly. “The excitement and happiness that come along with beautiful weather can often drive us to push real hard, real fast. In an uncontrolled environment with high heat and humidity, this can be a deadly combination,” Cohen says. “Exercise for less time and at a lower intensity, then gradually build up to longer, harder workouts. Listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need to,” she advises.
Drinking water is always important, but never more so than when you exercise outdoors. “Drink water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration. Preventing dehydration is much healthier and a more prudent approach to exercising in the heat than treating dehydration after the fact,” warns Cohen. She suggests bringing along a water bottle, water belt or some other hydration pack, such as a camelback, and sipping periodically throughout your workout.
Think about location
While you might have a favourite jogging route you like to use most days, it’s important to revise your game plan once the weather heats up and to choose areas that won’t have you in full sun. “Run in shady places like the woods or breezy places like the beach,” says Cohen. “Running on congested city streets midday in high heat is definitely not the way to go.”
Time your workouts right
Even if you love working out in the middle of the day and have done so all fall and winter, now that it’s getting hotter, it’s a good idea to move your fitness sessions to avoid relentless heat. “Try to manoeuvre your schedule so that you can exercise outdoors during cooler times of the day,” advises Cohen. “Early mornings or late evenings, when the sun is not as strong, tend to be the best.”