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Your Health, Your Way: How to workout in the heat



*Photo by Wendy Frith

Summer’s here! The good news is you can get your daily movement done outside. The not so great news is that the summer also brings heat and humidity along with more daylight hours.
What to do?
Here are some tips to enjoy working out in nature.

Disclaimer: Before starting any new exercise programme, it’s always wise to check in with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re good to go!

Small steps
Sure, the summer is inspiring and you may think you’re able to jump into walking three to four miles everyday. But if you start off too rigorously, you’ll burnout fast. You might even injure yourself. Start instead with small goals.

For example, if you envision starting a walking programme, begin with steps that will build on each other. Maybe 10 minutes, three times a week is reasonable. This will acclimate your body not only to moving but also to moving in the conditions of summer. You could build up to 20 minutes and beyond. If you feel really good and want to add more days after that, you can add those in one at a time since you’ve built up your stamina.

We’ve all heard about drinking 10 glasses of water each day to stay healthy. Well, that recommendation is for day-to-day rehydration. When exercising outdoors, you need 8 ounces every 20 minutes.
In fact, in the heat, by the time you realise you’re dehydrated, it can be too late. Heatstroke, a condition where the body overheats and can lead to organ damage, occurs quickly. Keep a water bottle around and drink from it often. Set a timer on your phone if you need a reminder. If you’re feeling tired, hungry or confused, these may be signs of dehydration.

We should be putting on sunscreen all year round to prevent damage from the sun including skin cancer. But for the summer, it’s even more important to protect your skin from those harmful rays. Don’t forget about your scalp as well! Put on water resistant SPF 30 or higher. Even on a cloudy day.

Time of Day
We don’t always think ahead when it comes to exercise, but this is a case for prioritising your time. You don’t want to workout outside during your lunch break because this tends to be the hottest time of day and temps can rise into the afternoon hours.
If possible, look at getting a sweat sesh in the early morning or early evening. And don’t forget to wear light colours and light fabric to deflect heat.

Take a break
Just like you took baby steps to get a routine in place, it is also important to take little breaks while working out in the heat. This gives your body a chance to recover. It also gives you a chance to assess how you’re doing. What is your heart rate? Are you cramping up? Make sure to listen to what your body is telling you before continuing.

Take it indoors
Let’s face it. It’s not always going to be possible to workout outside. Whether it’s the high humidity or pop-up thunderstorms, the outside isn’t always a reliable space. This is where being flexible comes in. If you can’t walk outside, perhaps you can make a loop around the house, or go up and down a set of stairs in the apartment building. OR crank up some jams and have a dance party! You don’t have to get off schedule just because the weather isn’t cooperating, but you do have to get creative.

Vary the activity

Variety is the spice of life. Sticking to the same type of exercise out of doors can get boring so mix it up.
Many walking trails have built in workout stations where you can do a few quick pull ups or push ups. Or think back to being a kid and hop on a bike or skateboard. If you’re lucky enough to live near water, you could try kayaking, paddleboarding or just taking a swim. Take advantage of warm weather activities and use a different set of muscles than your usual workout.

Have fun and be Safe
So, now that you know how to work out in the heat, what will you choose to do? Pick a way of moving that excites you, get all your supplies and put it in your calendar! Believe it or not, summer won’t last forever!


Nicole Klett is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach located in the United States. She is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and has worked with hundreds of clients to reach their health goals. She is also a writer who enjoys topics that are related to self-care whether that be sharing tips for healthier eating or for the next book or movie to check out.