During the summer months, there are so many fun activities to do outdoors! Whether it be canoeing on the water, daily outdoor runs, biking, or a pick-up game with a friend, there are endless ways to stay active while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. But if you aren’t careful, the high temperatures and intense sunlight can be dangerous to your health. Follow these 7 tips to avoid injuries and stay healthy during your outdoor exercise and activities.
1. Stay hydrated
Hydration is essential for good health. Not only is water 75% of your muscles, but it also helps to regulate your internal body temperature and protect vital organs. The American Council on Exercise suggests that you should drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before your workout, 8 ounces of water 20-30 minutes before your workout or during your warmup, 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes during your workout, and 8 ounces of water within a half-hour of completing your workout. Since everyone’s body is different, talk to a medical professional about how much water is right for you while exercising.
2. Exercise in early morning or evening
To avoid heatstroke and heat exhaustion, do not exercise outdoors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are most productive in the morning, try waking up an hour earlier and take a walk outside before the sun is at its strongest and the temperature reaches the highest point. If you prefer to exercise at night, take a bike ride or walk at sunset.
3. Wear lightweight clothing
The type of clothes you wear can either hinder or help you during a workout. Lightweight, breathable fabrics will help you stay cool, as it will allow air to reach your body. When exercising outdoors, choose light colors as they will reflect the heat, which helps keep you cooler. Wearing a hat can help shield your eyes from the bright sunlight if you’re exercising when the sun is rising or setting.
4. Choose the right shoes for your feet.
Choosing the right pair of running shoes helps to avoid injuries and discomfort while exercising. Your shoes should feel like a relationship with a good friend – natural and supportive! If you don’t own a good pair of running shoes, go to a retailer and get fit by a professional. They can help you choose a shoe that works best for your gait.
5. Warm up and cool down
As with all exercise, it’s important to warm up the body before exercise and cool down the body afterward. Try dynamic stretching before your workout to help loosen your muscles. Once you’re finished with your workout, make sure you leave time to gradually cool down your body. Depending on which areas of the body you focused on, try stretching the muscles for about 10 minutes after your workout. This will decrease soreness and allow your heart rate to decrease gradually and safely.
6. Take care of your skin
Don’t forget about your skin! Make sure that you apply sunblock every two hours to avoid sunburn. Not only is a sunburn itchy and uncomfortable, but it can increase the risk of skin cancer and cause your skin to age quicker. You can also wear a hat with a brim that can shield the sun from your face. If available to you, choose an SPF between 30 and 50 for the best results.
7. Listen to your body
Last, but certainly not least, is to listen to your body. Higher temperatures and stronger sunlight can tire you out. Do not force your body to exert itself if it is tired and needs a short rest. Remember that summer conditions make it more difficult for your body to exercise, so listening to your body is the best way to stay safe while exercising outdoors. Be patient with yourself as you adjust to a summer workout and give yourself the grace you need to exercise safely!