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Summer Heat Shouldn't Mean a Workout Vacation

Remember winter? Not long ago you were dashing through the snow over hidden patches of treacherous ice, battered by frigid blasts of arctic air while eagerly anticipating the days when warm weather would return and you could finally enjoy exercising outdoors.

Well, those days are here. So, what’s the problem now? In a word, August.

With late summer heat and humidity bordering on unbearable in many sections of the country, even thinking about working out can seem like an exercise in exhaustion. With that in mind, this collection of hot weather exercise tips will help you stay active and retain your fitness level during the final sizzling weeks of the season.

Not only will you help maintain your progress, but you can start building endurance for the coming temperature drops of the workout-favorite fall season.

Cool Down Before Warming Up

water bottle pouring into a glass

Although it might seem a little strange to shower before you work out, a cold shower can make a great deal of difference in performance and comfort. Researchers believe showering in cold water is effective because it lowers your heart rate while cooling your core and skin temperatures.

Try This: Put a cool towel around your neck before exercising. Consider keeping some in the freezer and pulling them out 10-15 minutes before working out.

Location, Location, Location

Does your regular walking or jogging route include pounding the pavement while you broil under an unforgiving sun? If so, it might be time to consider a new route for the next few weeks. Try hitting the trails in a local woodlands area or a spot near a body of water. You’ll soon discover the joys of shade and random but refreshing breezes. Getting away from the pavement might also be beneficial to your knees.

Try this: Find new routes near you entered by thousands of others using the excellent and extensive WalkJogRun website or app.

...And Time, Time, Time

While most of us give a puzzled stare to those finishing up their workout as we’re bringing in the trash cans wearing a bathrobe, they’re on to something. Summer temperatures go up dramatically much earlier in the day. Get up a bit earlier and don’t put off your workout.

Try This: Wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal and workout first thing for an entire week to get over the hump and continue all summer.

Invest in Cool Clothing

This tip isn’t about your appearance; it is about your comfort. Wearing less is more and avoid wearing cotton! Lightweight fabrics that wick sweat away from your body can make you feel much better when you are exercising during the warm weather months. Avoid covering up your leg muscles as they generate a lot of heat when you are working out.

Although you may look great in dark colors, it is best to wear light colors this time of year. The last thing you need is to absorb more of the sun’s warming rays!

Try This: Sweaty summer workouts can be tricky if you’re prone to chaffing. Be cautious wearing loose-fitting clothes. Try wearing spandex as a baselayer under looser fitting workout clothes.

Slow Down and Burst

Whether you’re biking, running, walking or swimming, this is not a good time of year to try to beat any personal or world records. You can slow your pace a bit and still maintain (or even increase) your fitness level by adding 30-second bursts of speed (also known as intervals) into your routine. Incorporate these bursts every three to five minutes and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Try This: Stop fretting about being slower! Research suggests that for every five-degree rise in temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit will slow your running pace by up to 30 seconds per mile.

Maintain Water Awareness

One of the biggest concerns regarding outdoor summer exercise is hydration. If your urine is the color of lemonade after your work out, you’re doing a good job keeping up with your water requirement. If it is darker, however, you may need to become a little more aware of your water intake to avoid serious health issues.

Many fitness experts recommend drinking about 20 ounces of water roughly two hours before summer outdoor exercise and another 8 ounces shortly before you head out the door. If you’re going to be outside for an extended period time, you should also grab a gulp or two of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.

Try This: Avoid coffee or other high-caffeine drinks before your outdoor workout.

If this is your first summer working out in the heat, you may want to discuss your medications with your doctor. Certain antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants and appetite suppressants can cause you to get dehydrated quicker and can mask the symptoms of dehydration.

Prepare to Refuel

smoothie and mixer

Even if you’ve done a good job maintaining water awareness, you should still thoroughly replenish your system after a warm weather work out. Protein shakes are an easy way to give your body the protein and other essential nutrients it needs after you’ve worked up a good sweat. Add cold water and in less than a minute you’ve got a tasty, but responsible, reward for your efforts while helping yourself recover from them.

You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially more strenuous ones such as hot weather workouts. If you’re a runner, you should check out this list of everything you need to know about running in the heat, as well.