How to work out safely in summer heat

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The summer sun warms your skin from head to toe and fills us with energy-boosting vitamin D that makes outdoor activities that much better. It can amp up your workouts to the next level – but you have to be careful to not risk scary side effects like heat stroke or dehydration. Here’s how to make the most of your summer sweat sessions without risking scary things like heat stroke and severe dehydration.


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Rise and grind

Roll out your yoga mat and get moving early to avoid severe summer heat. Morning workouts are a good time to test your endurance and get your heart rate up before humidity soars. This will help your body gradually adjust to higher temperatures and avoid any shock.

Wear the right fabrics

When summer arrives, you need to swap any cotton workout clothes for synthetic, moisture-wicking fabrics so your skin can breathe as much as possible as you heat up. We won’t tell you whether to rock the t-shirt or tank top or the leggings or booty shorts. The style is entirely up to you since it’s more about what you’re comfortable exercising in, but definitely read those labels and keep yourself as cool as possible from the start. Light colors are also a plus since they reflect the sun’s rays rather than absorb them like those fave black leggings of yours.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

This one is a no-brainer, yet we often let it fall by the wayside. Be sure to drink plenty of water before bed to keep yourself as hydrated as possible overnight, down a glass first thing in the morning when you wake up and bring an insulated reusable bottle of cold water with you during your morning workout. The vast majority of us are already terrible at drinking enough water throughout the day, so you need to prioritize your healthy fluids to avoid the problematic dehydration that can come with working out in the summer heat.

Don’t forget the SPF

If you’re exercising outside anytime after sunrise, you need to lather up with sunscreen first. We know — it can make you feel even slimier and sweaty, but it’s worth protecting your skin from unnecessary free radical damage and brutal sunburns. Keep an eye on the UV index (which your weather app on your phone can tell you at any point in time) and reapply accordingly. If you wait until lunchtime to go for that jog, a UV index of 10 is nothing to mess around with.

Seek out the shade

Just because you’re taking your workout outside doesn’t mean you have to stand in direct sunlight to reap all the benefits. If you’re moving through a bodyweight strength training circuit, relocate under a big tree or an awning to reap the benefits of the heat and humidity without overdoing it. There’s nothing wimpy about the shade. If anything, it’ll help you crank through that many more burpees before you call it quits, ultimately benefitting your workouts more than the heat alone.

Carry electrolytes with you — just in case

With dehydration being a major risk of exercising outside in the heat, it’s always a good idea to pack some electrolytes in the off chance you feel dizzy, faint, queasy or weak. We’re partial to NUUN tablets because they’re easy to transport, dissolve perfectly in your water bottle and contain only good-for-you ingredients. But you could also opt for a Gatorade or make your own electrolyte drink at home. Whatever works best for you!

Push yourself… but honor your limits

When it comes to fitness, your priority should always be to listen to your body, but this focal point becomes even more important when you’re working out in the heat. Know the signs of heat exhaustion (heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, etc.) and give your body a rest when it needs it. There’s no point in being a summer workout hero if it means ending up in a hospital bed… or worse.

This article first appeared on Swirled