Summer is one of the most ideal times of year to exercise outside. The days are longer and the weather is warmer. Whether you’re gardening, hiking, swimming, or doing more traditional workouts like going for a run or bike ride, getting in a little workout in the great outdoors is a fantastic way to enjoy the summer weather. But reaching your fitness goals won’t mean a whole lot if you hurt yourself, which is why you should learn how to exercise in the summer safely. That’s something we can help you with!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Exercising any time of year can result in dehydration. If you’re working hard, you’ll likely be building up a sweat, and that liquid has to come from somewhere. Hydration is critical to our health. When you combine dehydrating factors like exercise and the summer heat, it can quickly become dangerous. This is why you need to watch for signs of dehydration while you’re exercising, like thirst, headaches, cramps, or dry skin. Drinking water is a great hydration solution, and you can even try sports drinks that replenish electrolytes. Just try to avoid too much excess sugar.

You should be hydrating before, during, and after your workout to avoid dehydration.

Keeping up with your hydration is equally important to both prevent dehydration and fix it. It’s estimated the average person needs between 11 and 16 cups of water per day. You may need more if you’re exercising. For this reason, you should be hydrating before you exercise to make sure you’re not dehydrated prior to working out. You should then hydrate during your exercise, so you don’t become dehydrated. It can also help to cool you down. Finally, you should hydrate after your workout during recovery. This can replenish hydration you lost and help your body to rebound from the exertion.

Pick Prime Times to Workout

When you have to contend with the heat and sun of summer, it’s more important that you time your exercise correctly than at other times of the year. You can limit the risks by exercising when the heat and sun aren’t at their highest. For most areas of the United States, this is before 10 AM or after 4 PM.

Using the two safety time windows, the best times to workout are between 6:30 AM and 10 AM and 4 PM and 7:30 PM.

You probably don’t want to exercise when it’s dark enough to limit visibility either, especially if you’ll be jogging near a road. Using rough averages, this means you’ll want to start your exercise after 6:30 AM and before 7:30 PM. If you are going to exercise around or after sunset, make sure you’re wearing reflective or visibility gear so others can see you as it gets darker.

Check the Weather

While you may not have to worry about the cold as much as you would in autumn, the weather can still be a hazard in the summer. In fact, it can be more dangerous, with severe thunderstorms being most common between May and August. The conditions can change quickly, too, and being caught in a sudden rainstorm can be miserable and even hazardous. Whether the weather is just rainy or thundering and windy, it’s advisable to avoid exercising outside.

Avoid exercising in temperatures over 98.6°F, especially if the humidity is above 70 percent.

Storms aren’t the only worry, though. For most of the United States, summer is generally the hottest time of year. While you can take precautions for safely running in high heat, it’s highly advisable to avoid temperatures over 98.6°F, especially if the humidity is above 70 percent. Beyond that, you risk dehydration and heat stroke.

Dress for the Weather

One way you can mitigate the heat is by dressing in summer-friendly exercise attire. You’ll want lightweight and breathable outfits. Cotton and linen clothes tend to be the best, though you won’t find many linen workout clothes. Instead, you can wear exercise clothes made specifically for hot weather, which can be sweat-wicking (fabric that doesn’t absorb sweat and draws it off your body) or especially light and breathable. You’ll also want to err on the side of lighter colors, since these reflect light rather than absorb it. This can keep your clothes cooler rather than holding on to heat like some darker clothes can. Loose-fitting clothes can also be a real help since they help fresh air circular around your body. This causes a cooling effect since heat doesn’t get trapped next to your body.

Even if you’ll only be out for a little while, it doesn’t hurt to apply some sunscreen to protect your skin.

Beyond the pants and shirts you wear, you can do more to help yourself when exercising in the heat. Sunscreen is a good idea anytime you’ll be out in the sun. Even if you’ll only be out for a little while, it doesn’t hurt to apply some to protect your skin. If you’re outside during the day, wearing some sort of hat to keep the sun off your face can help. The fabric may also absorb sweat from your forehead and keep it out of your eyes. A handy bandana can also work. Finally, a pair of sunglasses can also keep the bright sun from obscuring your vision and can protect your eyes from UV damage.

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If you’re looking to get fitter this summer, there’s no better excuse to get outdoors. The same reasons summer is so nice to be outside can quickly make exercising outdoors turn into a risk. You can make your summer workouts safer, more successful, and much more enjoyable by following these tips.