Summer is in full effect, and like many of us, you've likely traded some of your regular gym workouts for running, jogging or walking in the great outdoors. However, along with the beautiful sunshine and colorful scenery, comes crazy hot and humid days leading to an increased risk for overheating, dehydration and other sun or heat-related illnesses. Does this mean you need to trade in your morning jog for a trot on the treadmill? Of course not! It simply means you need to take a few extra precautions.
Run before sunrise: Avoid most of the health risks from the sun by running during the coolest time of day. Without having to deal with the sun, most runners can gradually adapt to heat. At the very least, your runs will be more enjoyable than later in the day.
If you must run when the sun is up, pick a shady course: Shade provides a significant relief in areas of low humidity and some relief in humid environments.
Run in the evening: In areas of low humidity, it’s usually cooler later in the day, making a run outside much easier to manage.
Wear light clothing (moisture-wicking fabric, preferably): Many of the new, technical fibers will wick moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Pick these over cotton, as cotton soaks up sweat, making clothes heavier on your body. If you can't find gear that fits right, you can check out some great options here.
Pour water over your head: A quick wash of cold water over your head will instantly cool you off, bringing your body temperature down a degree to two. Bring along some extra cold water (in addition to what you're drinking), to squirt over your head periodically during your run.
Split up your running time: On a hot day that is scheduled for a 60-minute run, do 20 in the morning, 20 at noon and 20 at night; or 30 and 30... you get the idea. Engaging in shorter runs will keep you from overheating in the hot sun.
Take a cool shower post-run: After a run, it really helps to take a quick rinse in a cool shower. Not only does it freshen you up, but the cool water will bring your body temperature back down where it belongs.
Sun screen–Don't leave the house without it: Don't forget sunscreen (this goes beyond your workout!) For running or working out, select a sports spray that's made to withstand some sweat, without leaving a thick layer on your skin. Consult with a dermatologist for your specific needs.
Hydrate: Drink six to eight ounces of a sports drink like Gatorade or water, at least every two hours, throughout the day during hot weather, and an additional eight ounces for every 30-45 minutes of exercise. Staying hydrated is key to leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
By incorporating these simple tips, you can still enjoy your outdoor workout without running the risk of heat-induced illness.