It’s easy to feel more motivated to exercise throughout the summer months. Waking up to light mornings and sunshine can encourage even the most unenthusiastic of us to get up and out and take better care of our bodies. Perhaps you’re after a more toned physique for your annual beach holiday or are on a health kick having upped your intake of delicious summer fruits, smoothies and salads. Maybe you’re simply enjoying feeling the warm air on your skin and are using exercise as a reason for spending more time outdoors.
Whatever your motive for summer exercising, our advice is ‘go for it! Tailored exercise is key to a healthy body and for aiding rehab following injury. However, it should always be remembered that there are increased risks to exercising in hot conditions – here are a few of our considerations for staying safe during your summer exercise routine.
Protect yourself from the sun
it’s a basic one, but extremely important. If you’re walking, running, rowing or cycling on a hot sunny day, make sure you’re protecting yourself adequately. A hat or bandana will guard your head against the intensity of the sun and high-factor sun cream will protect your skin from harmful rays. Simply choosing an exercise route that is shaded will really help too.
If you’re planning on exercising on a sunny day, up to your water intake in preparation. Think about taking water with you during your workout too. You can learn more about the importance of hydration in our blog.
The time of day
Midday sun is a no-no for any kind of outdoor summer exercise and should be avoided where possible. In fact, dodging the entire middle section of the day altogether and opting for a morning or evening workout is by far the safest option during the hottest summer months, or whilst abroad.
Adapt your workout
If temperatures are soaring, it may just be worth skipping your outdoor running or cycling routine temporarily and replacing it with a session at an indoor gym or class. Plenty of public gyms are fully air-conditioned and offer a much more comfortable environment in which to run, cycle and lift weights. Alternatively, swapping your run for a more low-intensity yoga class may be a safe option for a day or two.
Make sure you’ve eaten
Whilst it’s important to take on enough calories ahead of exercising at any time of the year, it’s particularly crucial if you’re training in hot conditions. Working out in the heat burns extra calories and fat, but this does put extra strain on the body. ‘Fuel up’ well in advance of your exercise session to avoid burnout and even collapse.
Breathable sportswear is best for summer exercises. Wear loose-fitting tops and shorts and avoid clingy leggings or tops when in the sun. Remember your feet will swell slightly in the heat so make sure your trainers fit well for optimal comfort.
Listen to your body
Pushing yourself too hard in the heat can cause serious illness. Always lookout for anything that doesn’t feel quite right and make sure you’re familiar with the symptoms of heatstroke, which include;
- Excessive thirst
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Cramps or muscle weakness
- Rapid, racing heartbeat
- Lack of sweating despite feeling hot
- Prepare – key to exercising in the summer months is a little fore-thought. Take the steps listed above to ensure you’re hydrated, have eaten properly, have planned your route, or even adapted your routine slightly. Make sure you have the right clothing, have protected your head and skin and know the signs of heat-related illness should they occur. Finally, prepare by checking the weather forecast before you head out.
Regular exercise is key to maintaining a strong and healthy body and is something we actively encourage all of our clients to do at W5Physio. As we’ve identified above, heat can add complications to your workout, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided completely. Simply being aware of how to exercise safely when it’s hot is fundamental…so go on, get out there and enjoy! Jogging in the wind and rain again will be here before we know it!