A steady, challenging exercise regimen supports both body and mind, strengthening the immune system, warding off the effects of stress, and of course, keeping your body strong and balanced. But when extreme seasonal weather hits, our dependable routines are often thrown into jeopardy. Heat—especially during an intense workout—is nothing to be messed with. It’s always vital to place safety and wellbeing above specific workout goals. Our bodies require additional care in hot conditions, and at times, it is safer to forego the workout for another cooler day. But by understanding the body’s needs and making the proper adjustments, a dependable workout routine can remain intact. Exercising, after all, is a wonderful way to experience this stunning weather. When you do choose to brave the warmer temperatures, consider these pre- and post-workout tips to fortify your summer fitness experience.
Invest in Heat-Friendly Workout Gear
Without breaking the bank, many brands offer moisture wicking materials, encouraging air flow and preventing heat and moisture from being held too close to the body. It’s best to choose lighter colors when spending a good deal of the workout in the sun, as well as materials that provide addition protection from UV rays. The body needs to breathe and sweat freely, so choosing clothing that supports this cycle will elongate and fortify a hot workout. You may also consider covering the head and neck in cooling towel throughout your workout, which doubles as a protective cover for the scalp and head from the sun’s damage. When hiking or walking, consider even wearing a breathable long-sleeve top if the sun is particularly direct.
The two most important steps before a warm workout is considering the body’s hydration and protection. Be sure to hydrate throughout the full day, not just before and after the workout. If possible, consume water throughout your practice, as dehydration occurs much more quickly in these conditions. Be sure to replenish electrolytes in addition to plain water, as they are significantly depleted in the heat. Coconut water or even a homemade electrolyte drink is a natural way of replenishing these elements.
Additionally, research has found that taking a cool shower just before a hot workout can preserve the body’s low temperature when heading out into heat, wet hair providing an added cooling effect. Just be sure to reapply sunscreen before heading back out. For adding refreshment before or after a workout, rub a small, diluted amount of cooling essential oils on the skin—peppermint or lemongrass for example—to open up the breath and cool the body naturally.
Modify the Exercise
The heart and respiratory systems works overtime in the heat, quickening the pulse and intensifying the threat of heat-related illness. And so it’s crucial to keep your workout goals in mind—more can be accomplished with less, and remaining safe is paramount. When running, pull back the pace and modify your route to add as much shade or rest opportunities as possible.
As a final precaution, always create a backup plan when traveling by foot or bicycle far from home. Carry a phone when possible and never hesitate to cut your workout short when feeling faint or over-exhausted. Combined with the preparation above, fitness routines remain healthy, diverse, and motivating. By working with nature’s changes and our body’s needs, we can fully—and safely—enjoy all the beauty that summer weather offers.