10 Ways to Stay Hydrated and Cool During Summer Workouts

Jun 05, 2024 14:55:02PM

Most people want to stay in shape during summer, but the seasonal heat can turn a fun outdoor workout into a hard slog. This summer is expected to be hotter than ever across the country, with temperatures forecasted to run at least 2 degrees above historical averages from June to August. In hotter areas of the U.S., like the South, activity levels tend to drop during summer because of the heat and humidity. 

The benefits of summer workouts are well worth it, though — exercising outdoors in the summer can increase endurance, build stamina, boost calorie burn, provide vitamin D, and improve mental health. Don’t let record-breaking temperatures break your workout routine! If you're ready to take your exercise outdoors and avoid the "lazy days" of summer, here are 10 tips to help you prepare and prevent heat-related illness.

1. Dress to Impress (the Heat)

You probably already work out in light, breathable, moisture-wicking clothes that keep you cool and dry. But during the summer, avoid wearing dark-colored clothing that absorbs the heat and light of the sun. These clothing colors can rapidly increase your body temperature and your overheating risk. Instead, opt for light colors that reflect the heat — and make sure your hair is up!

2. Time Your Sweat Session Right

To make the most of your summer workouts and avoid the intense heat, make time to exercise during the cooler parts of the day — like first thing in the morning, when temperatures are at their lowest and the air is fresh. If mornings aren't doable, schedule your exercise for a few hours after dinner, once the sun has set and the evening cool has set in. Considering your schedule can help you stay comfortable and get the most out of your workout without the risk of heat-related stress.

3. Avoid Working Out After Meals

After eating, your body is focused on digesting food, which requires a lot of energy and blood flow. If you exercise right after eating, your body’s resources are split between digesting food and maintaining physical performance. This can reduce your ability to regulate your temperature, which increases your risk of overheating and discomfort during your workout. It's best to wait 1-2 hours after a meal before intense physical activity for proper digestion and temperature regulation.

4. Ease Into It

On especially hot days, consider adjusting the duration and/or intensity of your workouts to avoid overexertion in high temperatures. Start with shorter, lower-intensity exercises and gradually increase your duration and intensity so your body can slowly adapt to the heat. Alternatively, you could try multiple shorter workouts throughout the day instead of one long one to enjoy more active time without excessive heat exposure at once. 

5. Drink Enough Water Before, During, and After

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! As a rule of thumb, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily — plus an extra eight ounces before a workout. Always start your workout hydrated, and drink another eight ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise. This equates to an additional 16 ounces of water for a 30-minute workout and 32 ounces for a 60-minute workout. Get additional hydration tips in “Is Drinking Water Enough to Truly Hydrate? 5 Ways to Hydrate Better.” 

6. Dive Into Water Workouts

If you want to branch out from cardio and strength training, try a new type of exercise involving water to keep yourself cool. Swimming, kayaking, water aerobics, paddleboarding, and water polo are all low-impact activities that can help you get your heart rate up while enjoying the sun and water without overheating — and they may be so enjoyable that you might forget it’s exercise! 

7. Keep It Grounded

Because heat rises, working out on a yoga mat close to the ground can help you stay cooler. Workouts like these include yoga, pilates, stretching, core training, and other mindful exercises.

8. Don’t Skip Your Post-Workout Cooldown

Your body temperature, breathing, and heart rate will be elevated after a summer workout, so take some time for recovery through deep breathing, gentle stretches, and hydration to transition your body back to its normal state. Some people apply ice to their pulse points and practice breathing techniques like curling the tongue to cool the air as it enters the body. A proper cooldown decreases your body temperature gradually, reduces your heart rate to a resting state, and dissipates heat effectively so you don’t experience fainting or dizzy spells. 

9. Treat Yourself to a Cool Reward

After a summer workout, your body deserves a nourishing reward that will help it cool down, repair itself, and get stronger. Treat yourself to a cold, hydrating, healthy post-workout treat like a protein smoothie, a salad with cold chicken and some sugar-free poppyseed dressing, hydrating cucumbers or melon, or a glass of coconut water to replenish your electrolytes. 

You can also check out some of our sugar-free recipes for refreshing treats like blueberry popsicles with protein-rich Greek yogurt or watermelon salad with fresh lime vinaigrette!

10. Listen to Your Body

Nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness, and lightheadedness can indicate dehydration and heat-related fatigue. These symptoms are your body’s way of signaling that it’s time to pause and hydrate in the shade or finish the workout. Ultimately, it’s all about listening to your body and its needs. You can work your heart out as long as you’re hydrated, energized, feeling good in the heat, and respecting your body’s cues to slow down or stop. 



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