If you are living in the Northern Hemisphere, summer has already arrived. And with that come rising temperatures and lots of sunshine. As nice as that is if you are chilling at the beach, it can be actually quite dreadful when you want to work out outside. So here are my top tips on working out in summer.
1) Choose your battle wisely
If you do not have the luxury of a gym with air conditioning you will know that working out outside during summer time can feel like working out in a sauna. The heat can become absolutely unbearable, often leading to exhaustion and heat stroke.
You can easily avoid this by working out early in the morning, or -if you are not a morning person- later in the evening. You also want opt for open green areas and stay away from concrete surfaces as they heat up in the sun. Even better if you can work out in the shade, like a nice run on a forest trail, or a body weight workout under a tree in the park. Try to wear clothes that cool you down. Jumping into a nice stream or a lake is also handy for that.
2) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…
You probably have been told that it is important to drink lots of water when it is hot, especially when you are working out in summer. This is because you will sweat a lot more than normal when you are working out in summer, and also normal transpiration is elevated.
If you do not drink enough water you risk getting dehydrated, which can make you feel even more exhausted. You could even become nauseous, and your kidney function can suffer.
So make sure you always bring a bottle of water with you and drink from it frequently. I personally have a reusable bottle with an integrated water filter. This not only helps me save a lot of money, it also helps the environment.
3)… and don’t forget the electrolytes!
Drinking a lot of water in summer might seem like a good idea, but drinking lots of pure water when you are sweating a lot can also be dangerous.
You are now probably thinking: “Wait, isn’t this a contradiction to no. 2?”
No, and I’ll explain why: when you are sweating you are loosing water and electrolytes (aka minerals), most of which is salt or sodium chloride. If you sweat a lot, but only replenish yourself with pure water, the salt content in your body can reach dangerous levels.
There are cases where people have actually died because of a lack of salt.
Even though these cases are rare and only occur with vigorous exercise, a lack of salt can also make you feel dizzy and exhausted.
So make sure you get enough salt and other electrolytes while working out in summer. Here are some suggestions how:
- Sports drinks (preferably with little sugar)
- Home made sports drinks: 1/3 fruit juice, 2/3 water, a pinch of salt
- Special electrolyte drinks that you can get in the pharmacy
- Salt or electrolyte tablets
- Beef, Chicken or vegetable broth
- and simply by salting your foods a bit more than usual.
4) Protect yourself from the sun
Summer is THE time to soak up some sun and get some vitamin D. However, this is achievable with relatively little sun exposure. Beyond that the dangers start: sunburn, skin ageing, skin cancer, and even eyesight degradation can be all due to too much sun exposure.
So when working out in summer make sure you protect the skin you are in by using appropriate sunscreen, with a high SPF and suitable for sports, and reapplying it often. Stay out if the sun around noon and try to stay in the shade. (see point 1). Also wear a hat and some sunglasses, to also protect scalp and eyes.
5) Avoid the bugs
Depending on the climate you live in you might have a lot of company when working out outside. Mosquitos and other bugs are much more predominant in summer than in other seasons.
Mosquito bites are absolutely annoying, and they can even happen during a fast run. Best case is that they will just be a bit itchy. But you could also have severe swelling, an allergic reaction, or get infected with borreliosis or lyme disease.
So in addition to applying sunscreen before a summer workout also apply some anti-mosquito spray.
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