Taking your workout outside is a fun, free way to make the most of the sweet summer weather, but as the temperatures start to rise, so can your discomfort factor, not to mention your risk of dehydration or even heat stroke.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep cool while you exercise that don’t involve staying indoors and cranking the AC. Here’s the lowdown from fitness experts on how to actually enjoy a sweat session in the summer heat.
Holding an icy-cold towel against your neck while you are exercising can help you go longer without fatiguing, according to a study published. Similar research has shown that chilling your skin with a towel can help you up your workout intensity, too. If you’re running around a track, stash a cold towel on the side—so you can cool off again mid-workout. Or carry a Mission Enduracool towel with you, tucked into a pocket or waistband; its special microfiber fabric gets seriously cool when you douse it with water and wring it out.
Don’t wipe that sweat away
While your natural reaction may be to towel off, Jessica Matthews, the senior advisor for health and fitness education at the American Council on Exercise that letting perspiration stay on your skin will actually help you feel cooler. “It’s not just the act of sweating that keeps your body temperature regulated, but how that sweat is evaporated by the body,” she says.
“Letting yourself sweat and letting it pool on your skin allows the evaporation process to happen, and that’s what keeps you cool.” Matthews also suggests using a spray bottle to mimic this feeling at the start of your workout. “Just a little mist beforehand gives you that feeling of a light sweat and that process of evaporation already happening, so that’s a great thing to do before you head out.”
Go early, or late
Exercising during the sunniest part of the day might seem like a good idea from the air conditioning of your office building, but you’ll be suffering after just a few minutes out the door. Instead of using your lunch break as exercise time, opt for a cooler part of the day. SparkPeople recommended exercising outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
If going for a workout in the morning sounds like a nightmare, consider some strategies that make exercising right when you wake a little bit easier. The Huffington Post suggested putting everything out the night before and setting two alarms. After a few weeks, it’ll just be a regular part of your day.
ALSO READ: The Best Post-Workout Stretches
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
Reflect the sun’s rays away from you (rather than absorbing them with dark gear), and avoid tight attire that won’t allow a breeze to get through. Steer clear of sweat-soaking cotton; instead, wearing moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics.
You know drinking water is key when you exercise, but what’s the right amount when you’re sweating bullets? Matthews recommends 7-10 ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. But there’s no need to obsess so much that you’re sipping with every step. Says McDermott: “For safety purposes, drinking when you feel thirsty is fine.”