Summer is a great time to work out – especially if you want to exercise outside and boost your benefits! There are so many different ways to stay active this season, from running and hiking to swimming and cycling.
But, working out in the summer can require a little pre-planning. Your highest priority should always be your safety when you’re working out. Your goal is to keep your body healthy, so don’t ignore the ways you can (and should!) protect it when you’re breaking a sweat.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few summer workout safety tips you should keep in mind this season. By keeping yourself safe and taking precautionary measures, you’ll get more out of your workouts and can feel better during each one.
Beat the Heat
While working out in the summer months allows you to spend more time outside, it’s important to pay attention to dangerous temperatures. Depending on where you live, heat indexes during the day can reach lethal heights when you’re out for too long. Even comfortable, cooler days can become problematic if you aren’t taking the right steps to protect yourself.
If you want to exercise in the summer heat, keep the following tips in mind:
- Work out early in the morning or evening when it’s cooler
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing
- Choose shaded trails if you’re walking/running/hiking
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing
The most important thing to do is keep yourself hydrated. Drinking more water is something you should already be doing when it’s hot. But, staying hydrated while working out will keep you strong, focused, boost your energy, and reduce your chance of getting heatstroke or passing out. Stay hydrated with water and drinks with electrolytes. Stay away from energy drinks or beverages with caffeine, as they can actually make you feel fatigued. Most of the time, water is the best option. As a bonus, drinking more water will make you less hungry, improve your skin tone, and leave you feeling less bloated.
Know When Something is Wrong
Even if you do everything “right” to keep yourself safe, you can still be susceptible to heatstroke if temperatures are extremely hot. In some cases, being active outside can cause your body to overheat in as little as 15 minutes. According to the CDC, your internal temperature can rise to over 106 degrees within that time.
Heatstroke is extremely dangerous and can cause lasting complications. It’s important to know some of the signs and symptoms associated with it so you can hit the “pause” button on your workout, if necessary, and get to a cool location for some rest and rehydration. Even if you recognize the symptoms early on, you might still consider going to the doctor or ER for help. Some common signs to be aware of include:
- Extreme thirst
- Fast breathing
The moment you start to notice any of these signs, stop working out and do whatever you can to cool off immediately. Don’t wait for them to become worse before you take action. If you’re near your home, get inside, lie down, and elevate your legs. This will help more blood to flow to your heart. Place cool towels on your body or jump into a cold bath. Your goal should be to cool down your internal temperature as quickly as possible. So, the sooner you recognize there’s a problem, the better your chances of getting the help you need.
Give Yourself Time to Recover
Being outside offers a natural boost of energy. It also pumps up your serotonin levels. Combine that with the mental health benefits of exercise, and you might be putting more into your workouts than you do inside or throughout the rest of the year.
That’s why it’s so important to give yourself time to recover. Your workout strategy for the summer needs to include a recovery strategy, as well. Recovery gives your muscles a chance to repair themselves, which will reduce your risk of getting injured. It will also improve your energy levels so you can continue to give your all during your workouts.
Recovery strategies look different for everyone. But, it should include lots of hydration, eating the right foods for muscle repair (high protein!), and plenty of rest. Some people choose to take supplements to speed up the recovery process, which is often helpful. Vitamin B12 can help with nerves and circulatory functions, and Glutathione works as an antioxidant that can fight free radical damage from your workouts.
Your recovery plan is a way for you to listen to your body and avoid overtraining. Rest, relax, sleep, and stretch. Give yourself 2-3 days off a week, depending on how hard you’re training, and you’ll end up getting more out of your workouts without burning yourself out.
If you’ve already laced up your sneakers, get out there and enjoy your workouts this summer! But, make sure you’re taking these safety tips seriously, so you can give your best all season, and keep your mind and body strong and healthy.