Baby, it's HOT outside!


Summertime in the south is no joke, it really doesn't take much to make you sweat! If you've been working out over the past winter and spring months, you may (or may not) be surprised at the new challenges that keeping to your workout regimen in the summertime throws at you. You're probably discovering that your body reacts to the heat and humidity much differently than it does to cooler, drier conditions. 

BUT, don't let the heat cause you to lose your momentum! After all, its prime swimsuit season and ain't nobody got time to start over now. Rest assured, you CAN keep working hard in the summer, you just have to adjust your approach a little. With these 10 tips, you're sure to stay on track as you continue getting stronger and healthier. 


1. AVOID PEAK DAYLIGHT HOURS Stay away from strenuous exercise and limit your time outside when the sun's rays are at their strongest and most dangerous - generally between the hours of 11 AM and 4 PM, when the sun is highest in the sky.

If the thought of getting up before the sun comes up or going out later in the evening to get your workout in just sounds awful to you, perhaps the incentive of catching the sunrise or sunset will lure you in. Plan an iced coffee outing with friends or family to reward yourself after your early-morning run, or meet up for late-night happy hour after your evening bike ride. That will add a little extra incentive to not hit snooze when that early morning alarm goes off or not drive pas the bike trail.


2. COOL DOWN FIRST!You can improve your performance in the heat by lowering your body temperature before heading outside. Taking a cold shower or simply putting cold cloths on the back of your neck can help you to better tolerate the heat.


3. FIND SOME SHADEIf you're used to running, jogging, walking, or cycling on asphalt paths, then switch to dirt or gravel paths for the summer. Asphalt and concrete tend to reflect the sun's rays, which means they'll end up radiating heat rather than absorbing it. 

Is your running or cycling route out in the open? Look for alternative streets or paths with plenty of awnings or trees to provide some shade, like a local park or greenway. Stay far, far away from stadiums or track fields, as these are made of asphalt and have virtually no shade to offer (unless you like hiding under the bleachers).


4. SAY NO TO CAFFEINEBecause caffeine acts as a diuretic, it forces water out of your system. This is the last thing you want when exercising in the summer heat. Save your caffeine intake for several hours before or after your workout, rather than close to the time you'll be exercising.


5. HYDRATE HYRDATE HYDRATE! Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to help reduce the heat stress on your body. If you are working out outside and sweating a substantial amount, replenish your reserves by drinking a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade but be careful of the amount of sugars in these drinks!


6. CHOOSE YOUR WORKOUT ATTIRE WITH CARE Used to working out in long-sleeved shirts or lots of black? Do yourself a favor and switch that heavy material and dark colors for a more light weight, light-colored option. Now more than ever it's important to wear clothing that will move sweat away from your body and help evaporate it quickly. A cotton t-shirt may be fine in the winter, but trust us, you'll be much cooler in a fabric designed for exercise. 


7. STOP AND TAKE BREAKSYour body can only handle so much extreme heat. When the thermometer climbs, so does your body temperature. So you may find that you need more frequent breaks to keep performing at your best. And please, be sure to take them! Listening to your body and caring for it is NOT a sign of weakness: it's smart. 


8. MONITOR YOUR HEARTThe heat places greater stress on your heart. Keep tabs on your heart rate as you work out in the heat. If it spikes quickly or stays too high, give it a rest. 


9. MOVE YOUR WORKOUTS TO THE GYMYou may find that it's best to simply move your workout indoors for the summer. If you would prefer not to put your body under summer stress, work out in a gym. You will have the added benefit of personal attention and group accountability. It's a great time to work on form, increase intensity, and plan out a new and exciting workout routine. Beat the heat by mixing things up this summer!


10. SLATHER ON THE SPF Sunscreen helps to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays, so why wouldn't you want to wear it while exercising? 

Apply some SPF 30 (or higher if your skin is more susceptible to burning) liberally and often to keep those UV rays at bay - even when you're not going to be in direct sunlight. Remember, if you're going to be in the water all day or sweating a ton in the heat, make sure you're applying waterproof and/or sweat-resistant sunscreen.  

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