Working out in the Summer

Summer in the South can make the whole world seem heavier.  The humidity and heat combine to feel like a weight over existence.  An act as simple as dragging oneself out of bed can seem extraordinary and heroic.  However, it is still important to maintain a steady workout routine.  Doing so will make you feel better about facing the heat--not to mention the ego boost that you’ll receive when you persevere through an overwhelming slog. 

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Working out indoors is the easy answer.  If you have the space and the equipment to fit your needs, you can have A/C as your workout buddy (not Slater, though he’d be helpful).  If you are intent on getting some exercise in the burning summer sun, however, here are some things that can help you “beat the heat” and avoid some pains along the way:

Guard Yourself Against the Sun

The sun is the blessing and the curse of the outdoor workout routine.  You want it to be nice outside (no one wants to work in heavy rain)--but nice turns nasty quick in the hot summer sun.  Use sunscreen, even when you’re only going to be in the shade.  It doesn’t take much for harmful UVs to scorch you, and even reflected light can cause a sunburn. 

Plan your workout according to the clock.  We know that the hottest portion of the day is from 10 in the morning until about 3/3:30 in the afternoon.  Avoid working out during this period and you can help keep yourself out of the worst of the sun’s glare. 

Prepare for the Heat

Beating the heat starts before you ever set foot in your workout space.  A cool shower can be helpful for keeping your internal temp down (try one both before and after your workout, but be careful not to cool yourself too quickly).  Dress lightly, avoiding heavy fabrics and dark colours. 

Use sunglasses and shield your eyes.  Even with your protection on, try to do your exercises in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight.  Paths, parks, and groves with plenty of tree cover can make great workout venues, appealing for both their beauty and their defense against the elements. 

Break up your routine into manageable chunks.  You can still keep all of your physical regimen intact, but breaking it into smaller slices with good, shaded rest in between can help keep your internal temperature from rising too high.

Replenish Your Body

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Make sure that you are getting plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts.  Don’t wait until you are feeling thirsty to guzzle down loads of water--that’s just a good way to make yourself sick!  Maintain your hydration against the sweat of the heat.

Water alone is not enough, though.  You need to make sure you’re getting some electrolytes to go along with it.  Fruits such as honeydews, watermelons, and grapes are excellent sources of both water and nutrients, and can help keep your body’s chemicals in balance when you are refueling. 

With these tips, you can help fight off the enormous burden of a sun-baked workout routine.  Remember, it isn’t enough to just exercise.  It’s important to take care of yourself even when you’re taking care of yourself.  Keep your body happy, and you go a long way towards keeping your mind happy.