The heat is on, and so is your outdoor workout. Temps in the 90s won’t stop you from that run or ride—and that’s fine, as long as you’re careful about exercising in extreme weather conditions. From sunburn and dehydration to dizzy spells and heat stroke, the consequences of overdoing it this time of year can be severe. Follow these tips to stay safe until the mercury drops again.
If you think carrying along a water bottle is enough, think again. When exercising in hot weather, you’ll want to start hydrating long before you step into the sun. About two hours prior to heading out, drink 20 ounces of water. Drink another 8 ounces right before you begin. While you’re on the go, take a sip every 15 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. And upon returning, replenish with an electrolyte drink.
If you’ve never (or rarely) worked out outdoors during summer, don’t try to run five miles in the middle of the day your first time out. Start gradually and increase your workout time daily over the course of a week. This way, your body will build up a tolerance to the heat and humidity.
Dress light & loose
Black or dark-colored clothing absorbs sunlight, upping your risk for overheating. Always wear light-colored clothing and choose cotton material to keep air circulating and sweat evaporating, letting you feel cooler.
Slather on sunscreen
Exposing yourself to the heat of the sun for a prolonged period can lead to increased body temperatures, and UV rays can damage your skin. Always apply a sports sunscreen that stands up to sweat and is easy to reapply. Also be on the lookout for shady spots where you can stop to rest and bring down your body temperature.
Choose non-peak hours
If possible, exercise early in the day or evening when the sun isn’t as strong and humidity is lower. As unpleasant as sweating is, it’s the body’s way of cooling off in the heat. For it work, sweat needs to evaporate from the skin. When it’s too humid, sweat sticks.
Slow the pace
Days with record-breaking heat are not days to break personal records! It’s OK to slow down when outside temps are in the 90s or even 100s. Your workout may take a little longer, but you’ll be safe and thankful to have worked out despite the heat.
Check with your doc
If you’re taking any type of medication, always check with your doctor before exercising outdoors in the heat. All medications are different and can affect people in a variety of ways. If you’ve recently had a fever, it’s probably best to exercise indoors to keep your core body temperature down.
Feeling dizzy? Cramping? Catch a chill? Don’t ignore physical signs that something might be wrong—listen to your body! If anything feels off, take a break. Cool down in an air conditioned place, hydrate and have a healthy snack like watermelon, pineapple or another juicy fruit (something with a high water content). While it’s frustrating to have to stop a workout, it’s not worth the danger to your health to think you can push through it!