When the weather heats up, staying cool becomes a priority for everyone — especially if you’re outdoor bound. Exercising in the summer carries its own special challenges. So before you lace up your cross-trainers and race out the door, make sure you’re properly prepared to face the sun, the smog and the heat.
Before you do anything else, slather on sunscreen to protect yourself against the sun (yes, even when it’s cloudy since up to 80% of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate clouds):
- Put sunscreen everywhere your skin is exposed
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 — and with UVA and UVB protection
- Put on another layer about 20 minutes after you head outside
- Reapply it frequently if you’re sweating heavily or swimming
You should also:
- Stay out of direct sunshine between 11 am and 4 pm
- Look for shaded areas for your activities
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses
- Cover up as much as possible
Okay, so you’ve taken steps to protect yourself from the sun. But that doesn’t mean you can just dash out and run wild. If you want to last for more than a few minutes, pay attention to these basics:
- Warm up. Sure the sunshine feels great and you want to get going, but body still needs proper preparation before you start.
- Don’t rush. Ease into your activity and let your body adjust to the heat.
- Take breaks. Especially for water. And get out of the sun if you can.
- When your body talks, listen. Those little aches may be telling you to cool it for now.
A dehydrated athlete is an unhappy athlete — even if you’re just a weekend warrior out for a fitness walk. Dehydration can have some very unpleasant and serious health consequences; avoid these by:
- Drinking lots of water, increasing the amount as the temperature and humidity rise:
- 2 hours before your workout: 400-600 ml (add 250-500 ml if it’s hot)
- During your workout: 150-350 ml every 15 to 20 minutes
- After your workout
- For extended workouts in the heat (say, for more than an hour) a sports drink can help keep those electrolytes in balance and boost your energy level
Choking on smog isn’t going to make for a pleasant outing. So try to:
Kids feel the effects of hot, humid days even more than adults; but, of course, they’re too busy having fun to worry about it. So:
- When things are really cooking, limit their time outdoors
- Have them rest during the hottest part of the day (usually between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm)
- Find a shaded area for outdoor play
- Dress them in light, brightly coloured, loose-fitting clothes
- Give them lots of water, and don’t let them drink anything really cold
- Cool them down by spraying them with water
- If they’re taking part in a camp or any kind of organized activity, check that the people in charge know about the potential dangers of summer weather