Ready to break a sweat? The sun said, “say no more.” While the temperatures rise in the summer months, you don’t have to do too much before the sweat starts beading on your forehead… and everywhere else, for that matter.
But what about your workouts? It’s always fun to take your workout outdoors and enjoy some vitamin D and fresh air while you break a sweat — but doing it safely in the summertime (or any time when the heat is ON) is another story. Ahead, your checklist for safe summer workouts when it’s hot, hot, HOT, including recommendations from the Mayo Clinic and CDC.
First Things First…
You might feel young, healthy, and invincible… but no one is immune to overheating. “Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather,” reports the CDC. So these tips are for everyone.
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Safe Summer Workouts: How Hot Is Too Hot?
There’s a threshold for safe outdoor activity. Anything above 80ºF is considered a caution zone, but if it’s over 90ºF, your best bet is to cool it (literally) on the outdoor workouts until the temps drop. When the heat is at its peak, you’re better off sticking to something indoors with A/C.
Heat Safety Tips For Outdoor Exercise
#1 Check the Forecast
Watch the temperature first and foremost, and be sure to monitor how hot your environment is. Also, keep humidity levels in mind; high humidity means less evaporation of sweat, which means your body’s innate cooling system can’t work properly. If it’s muggy, skip the beach run.
#2 Start Low and Slow
Before you jump into a 60-minute advanced HIIT workout in 90º weather at high noon in the middle of July, consider easing into warm-weather workouts. Low impact, slower movement, shorter durations… don’t hurt yourself! You can apply this rule to general workouts, too! More is not always more. Listen to your body!
#3 Be Mindful of Your Fitness Level & Limits
As always, it’s essential to listen to your body! If you’re just starting your fitness journey, you may want to be extra mindful — meaning working out before the hottest parts of the day, staying extra hydrated, working out with a friend, etc. It’s important to know your limits and always listen to your body. It’s not worth it to get yourself sick or injured over one sunny workout, alright?
Note — beginner or not, anyone can get sick from heat (including heart stroke) through working out outside in hot temperatures. So no matter what your fitness level, take the necessary precautions to protect yourself during the summer heat!
#4 Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This goes without saying, but drink more water. Extra water. All the water. And get electrolytes! These essential minerals help regulate fluid balance in the body, preventing hot weather risk factors like heat stroke and dehydration. Load up on hydrating beverages like raw coconut water, add Liquid IV/Cure packets to your water, or snack on water-rich foods.
Try this simple DIY Electrolyte Drink to support your overall hydration:
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 cups coconut water
- 2 tbsp honey
- ⅛ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 serving of magnesium powder, optional
- Ice, to serve
Step #1: Add all ingredients, minus the ice to a blender, and blend for about 10-20 seconds.
Step #2: Pour into a glass over ice and enjoy!
#5 Time It Properly
Essentially no one benefits from midday sun workouts — so aim for earlier in the morning or closer to sunset. Not only is this better for your skin, but it’s easier on your body, too. Your workout will be more comfortable — and safer! Avoid that 10 am to 2 pm block – when the sun’s rays are strongest and most likely to cause damage – whenever possible.
#6 Leave the Heavy Meals for Your Post-Workout Recovery
Don’t eat a huge, heavy meal before a hot, intense workout in the sun. As for your lighter meal beforehand, give your gut an hour to process before you head outside.
In order to fuel those hot summer workouts, you’ll want your pre-workout snack to be rich in water and nutrients! Try making a light yet satiating smoothie filled with summer berries, water-rich spinach, and protein-packed almond butter. While you can blend it with any milk of choice, opting for raw coconut water will give you that all-natural electrolyte boost!
#7 Protect Your Skin
SPF is an absolute must during the hot days of summer, regardless of whether or not you’re working out. Protect your skin with sunblock and dress for the occasion — light, cool, breathable layers that cover the prime areas of exposure (like your shoulders), and wear a hat or visor whenever possible.
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#8 Use the Buddy System
Having a workout partner can help in a number of ways, but it also acts as a safety net when you’re in the heat in case you start to experience any of the below warning signs. If you don’t have someone to work out with, bring your phone, and let someone know your plans — just in case. This sounds very doom and gloom, but it’s an important part of safe summer workouts. Have backup!
#9 Have Cooling Tools Handy
Ice packs, neck fans, and wet towels on hand can serve as your cool-down essentials in between reps and sets, or after you complete your workout. Your gear is important, too! Breathable, ventilated activewear will be your best friend. Bonus points if it’s sweat-wicking or specifically formulated with the hot summer months in mind!
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is phase one of getting sick from the hot temps — heat stroke is the most severe. Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms when you’re working out in warm weather, as they can be indicative that your body’s system is fried and you’re going into exhaustion:
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid breathing and heart rate
- Slurred speech
Staying Safe in The Summer Heat
The takeaway? Staying active in the summer is great, and we highly recommend moving outdoors! But not at the expense of your health. When it comes to safe summer workouts, remember to watch the weather and be mindful of any questionable symptoms you’re experiencing. When in doubt, air on the side of caution! It’s hot out there, and your safety comes first.