By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Summer is such a great time of year, and with the COVID-19 lockdown coming to an end, we can expect a huge rush to the outdoors. There are so many fun and inviting outdoor activities during the summer. If you’re regularly working out, taking your exercises outside probably sounds exciting. But while you’re packing your mat for an outside sweat session, you should consider a few things before working out in the outdoor summer heat. Read on for five workout tips to consider to safely take your summer workout to the next level.
Although exercising is sometimes uncomfortable, especially for beginners, the rush of “feel-good” you get afterward is priceless. By committing yourself to work out at least three times a week, you will not only improve your general health but also feel ready to take on the world. With summer upon us, you might be feeling pressure to get a beach body.. Good news: you’re not too late. Read on to get workout tips on how to crush your summer body fitness routines.
While some people enjoy late afternoon workouts, exercising in the early morning has many benefits. The fact that it can boost your energy as much as a cup of black coffee is worth waking up to the buzz of an early alarm. And exercising in the morning is also a great way to feel happier and more optimistic. Apart from these benefits, if you make it a habit to break a sweat before entering your office, you will start your day with less stress because working out is proven to reduce the levels of stress hormones called cortisol.
If you have trouble falling asleep, you should definitely give morning workouts a shot because exercising promotes healthy sleeping habits as well as lower blood pressure. Dealing with hypertension is scary, and exercising in the early morning will help you reduce it naturally.
Hydration is ultimately the most important thing you have to be mindful of when working in the summer heat. When you work out, you sweat, and when you sweat, you are losing liquid from your body. That liquid is not just water, as many may think—you’re also losing electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that are necessary for muscle health. “Sodium is the primary mineral lost in sweat during exercise,” says Kelly Pritchett, a sports dietitian. “Sodium losses average about 1 gram per liter of sweat lost. So if someone loses 1 liter of sweat per hour, they are also losing about 1 gram of sodium per hour, on average,” she adds in an interview for refinery29.com on how to stay hydrated.
Low levels of sodium in your body are dangerous. The condition is called hyponatremia, and it can cause numerous symptoms that are similar to dehydration. In severe cases, it can cause brain swelling, which can lead to headaches, seizures, coma, and even death.
This is the main reason you should avoid working out in extreme heat. And if you don’t have a scheduled competition or a race at a specific time, it is best to choose not to do any outdoor workouts from 10 am to 3 pm.
One of the most important tips for outdoor workouts is to continually hydrate. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty; sip small amounts of water throughout your workout. Do not gulp, as this may cause stomach ache. You might even want to drink a sports drink if you know your workout will last longer.
If you know you won’t be able to fit a workout in the morning before it gets hot outside, a shorter and more intense workout will work just as well. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is the best way to add quick yet effective fitness into your busy schedule. If you’re tight on time, then HIIT is the perfect choice for you.
HIIT works on the principle of short intervals where you’re working out hard (I mean HARD) for 40 seconds and then resting for 20 seconds. Even if you’re able to only do a 10–15-minute workout like this, you will definitely see some results soon. The goal is to bring your heart rate over 80% of your maximal heart rate. Once in that state, even when you rest for those 20 seconds, your body is still burning fat.
The best thing with HIIT, apart from the fact that it’s a short workout, is that the only equipment you need is you. No need for mats, kettlebells, dumbbells, or any other gear whatsoever. If you’re not sure whether HIIT is for you, you might consider LISS (low-intensity steady-state training).
One workout tip to keep in mind when exercising outdoors is to wear light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb sun rays, and light colors reflect them. While you may prefer the aesthetics of a black T-shirt, it’s important to choose lighter colors so you don’t overheat. As for the material, you want to pick cotton or breathable synthetics that will keep you cool. Also, you might want to wear clothing that is a bit loose. Tights and leggings will stick to you once wet with sweat—and believe me, you don’t want that to happen. Light and loose clothing is the ultimate combo if you’re looking to stay cool as you work out under the summer sun.
You don’t have to do all the workouts every day. You’re eager to get in shape, I get it, but pushing yourself too hard might bring results you don’t want, like hurting your muscles or becoming overtired. Listen to your body and follow its signals. It will tell you if you’re overdoing it. And don’t expect to hit the same goals and standards as you would in an airconditioned gym. Outdoor summer workouts are something else, so you should set different goals to strive for. But if you follow these workout tips, you’ll be able to keep your cool as you focus on fitness this summer.