This post-pandemic summer we’re ready to fling open our doors and head out into the sunshine, or under a shady tree. One of the joys, and benefits, of warmer weather is the chance to take yourself and your workouts outside - more vitamin D. A deep sense of wellbeing from spending time in nature. Summer breezes caressing your face…
You, drenched in sweat, dehydrated, and sunburned after an active day. Oops.
Whether you’re gearing up for your first post-pandemic hike, a run on a sandy stretch of beach, or a MYX workout in your own backyard, you’ll want to make sure you exercise safely this summer. Here’s what to pay attention to when the mercury soars.
Don’t wait till your thirsty to drink
In the summer heat, your body uses water to regulate your core temperature, so make sure you drink up before, during, and after activities, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Wellness guidelines usually suggest 6 to 8 glasses of water each day—about 2 liters. During the summer months, chug an extra couple glasses to ensure you're properly hydrated, especially if you plan on getting super sweaty. Drink up before heading out, take a water bottle with you and be sure to swig every 15 to 20 minutes while you’re active. And of course, rehydrate afterward.
Replenish your electrolytes
For moderate-level exercise of an hour or less, water is great; anything more intense can lead to electrolyte loss. Do yourself a favor and skip the artificial ingredients and added sugar of many popular sports drinks (not naming names; you know who you are).
To replace the sodium you sweat out, MYX trainer Christina LaGrega suggests adding a pinch of Himalayan salt and a squeeze of lemon to your water. “Sodium is one of the first electrolytes we lose when we sweat, which can cause muscle fatigue and cramping,” she says. “Sea salt also contains magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are also electrolytes. The lemon juice adds a dose of vitamin C, and is super refreshing.”
You can also opt for coconut water, cherry juice, or chocolate milk to guarantee you're replenishing your body properly. Stock your fridge or cooler with water-rich foods like lettuce, watermelon, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and peaches.
Check the forecast for humidity
You know those days when the weatherman says, “Temperatures will be in the 80s but it feels like 100”? Keep that in mind if you’re planning to be active outdoors.
Exercise and warm weather both increase your core body’s temperature. When you’re active on a hot, humid day it’s a double whammy, and even the pros need to ... exercise caution. Your body cools itself by sweating, but cooling down is harder in humid weather because perspiration doesn't evaporate as quickly from your skin when the air is already saturated with moisture.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion
If you’re working out or getting sporty on super hot days, you put yourself at risk for heat exhaustion—or even heat stroke, which is more serious and requires immediate cooling and medical attention.
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body can’t keep its internal temperature within a safe range and maintain proper blood flow to all your organs and your skin. A common symptom of heat exhaustion is extreme fatigue. On a hot day, it’s easy to brush off that sluggish feeling, but being tired isn’t something you should ignore. If you feel dizzy, faint, or nauseated, listen to your body and stop what you’re doing, then take steps to cool down (see below).
It’s smart to avoid outdoor activity from 12 noon to 3 pm, the hottest part of the day when the sun is directly overhead. Mornings or evenings are better, especially if it's going to be a scorcher.
Be cool/Keep your cool
“I am a huge fan of freezing a wet towel in a ziploc overnight and taking it with me to work out,” Christina says. “That way it stays nice and cold even as it starts to melt in the heat. I do this myself, and I have my daughter do it when she plays summer sports.” A cold towel wrapped around your neck or on pulse points offers instant relief, lowering blood temperature in your arms and neck, which recirculates through the body and will cool you down for up to an hour.
Be SPF smart
Even if it’s cloudy out, a broad spectrum sunscreen is a must because UVA/UVB rays penetrate the clouds and can damage your skin even on overcast days. Apply 30 minutes before going out, and reapply often. Not only can a bad burn increase your risk for skin cancer, but sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
We won’t suggest packing away your leggings until fall. “No one will ever ditch their leggings, including me!” says Christina. But know this: What you wear matters.
If light colored, loose fitting clothes aren’t your fashion choice, “moisture-wicking fabrics will at least keep you from chaffing or feeling straight-up uncomfortable,” Christina says. “Being able to move, keep your range of motion, and breathe in the heat is key. Your sweat should be able to evaporate through the fabric, not just sit and soak into your clothes.”
Less is more
You know how to crush a workout, that goes without saying. When the temperature soars, play it smart and slow down. There’s no need, or rush, to bust your usual moves. “Allow your body to acclimate to the heat,” says Christina. “Don’t overdo it. Start off with lighter/shorter sessions, even a 10-minute HIIT workout, and work up the duration over a period of a week or two.” You could even strap on your HRM to make sure you’re staying in your best heart rate zone.”
And if you’re feeling the heat? Take a break and cool off inside. You’ve got the whole summer ahead of you. And that Netflix show won’t watch itself.