You wanna sweat—but don’t let your workout endanger your health.
If you’re like many people, you might look forward to ditching the treadmill once the snow melts and the temperatures start rising. Why pay a membership fee to run on a treadmill when you can jog in the park and enjoy the fresh air for free?
The downfall of outdoor summer workouts is that you’re at a higher risk of heat-related illness—that is, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Not only are the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke unpleasant, but they can worsen to unconsciousness or even death.
That doesn’t mean it’s “unsafe” to exercise outside during the summer. There are ways you can protect yourself and stay cool while working out on hot summer days:
1. Exercise during the cooler mornings and evenings
It’s highly recommended to avoid exercising during the hottest, sunniest parts of the day, which is usually between noon and 4 P.M. Not only is the extreme heat dangerous for your workout, but the intense sunlight also increases your exposure to UV rays.
Bonus: The parks and sidewalks tend to be pretty empty in the morning, so you’ll stay cool and you won’t have to deal with crowded running paths.
2. Drink more water than usual
Sweating helps you stay cool, but it also results in fluid loss, so you’re at an increased risk of dehydration. Drinking more water during the day can give you more of a buffer against dehydration during your sweaty workouts.
3. Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing
When it comes to summer workout clothes, the lighter the color, the better. Lighter colors reflect the light and heat from the sun, while dark blues and blacks absorb the light and heat. Choose breezy, lightweight fabrics that won’t trap in your body heat.
4. Choose shaded routes, if possible
When the sun is out, try jogging in neighborhoods or parks with lots of trees or tall buildings to provide shade. This will help protect you from both intense heat and UV ray exposure.
5. Start your workouts gradually
It might be harder for your body to adapt to the heat, so work your way up to the workout. Start with light activities, and up the intensity incrementally.
No matter what you wear or what time you hit the running path, if you notice weakness or muscle cramps, stop immediately and seek a cool or shaded place to rest. Muscle cramps are early signs of heat-related illness.
Remember: Exercise has major benefits for your health, but it’s only healthy if it’s safe.
- Heat and athletes. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019. (Accessed on June 2, 2020)
- Tips for preventing heat-related illness. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. ((Accessed on June 2, 2020)
- Warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. (Accessed on June 2, 2020)