After months of progress on New Year's resolutions and then prepping for beachwear season, now begins the time of year when diet and exercise start to struggle. To make matters worse, the blazing heat and humidity give an ample excuse to take it slow (or stop) on progress for a few months.
It's important, however, to continue healthy habits through the season of cookouts and vacations so that the last part of the year doesn't feel like starting over.
We've put together a useful guide to help keep the motivation to burn calories (safely) during the summer season.
Remember, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially more strenuous ones such as hot weather workouts.
In Sweltering Heat, Safety First
As the temperature rapidly climbs from the cooler days of spring, it's important to not to keep exercising as before. In fact, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) guidelines say it may take 10-14 days for your body to acclimatize to hotter weather. Pay special attention to outdoor workouts that involve interval training or long endurance. High stress exercises should be taken down a notch to avoid heat exhaustion. Don't try to push through it, as it could cause a potentially life-threatening heat stroke.
Next, it's important to keep an eye on that weather app and be flexible about when you exercise outside. Try to find a time near the lowest temperatures of the day, such as very early morning or even late in the evening. Also consider running or riding a bike (with caution) in the refreshing rain. Just be sure there isn't thunder or lightning around. Another great feature of The Weather Channel app is that there's a running forecast that will help you know what today's conditions are and the best time to get outside. You can customize it to your individual preferred conditions, too.
Drink water throughout the day (not just right around your workout time). Staying hydrated is a must. By the time you start feeling thirsty, you're probably already a little dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink about 20 ounces of water, two to three hours before your exercise. Consider drinking an additional few ounces of water every 15-20 minutes if it's extremely hot outside. Read more "How Much Do You Really Know About H2O?"
Be sure to wear the right gear. It's a little more pricey, but wicking, breathable clothes help pull sweat and heat away from your body. Choose light colors and also consider a visor or a hat.
Watch out for too many UVs, not just degrees. Try using a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 any time you'll be exercising outside.
Lower your body temperature. Taking a cold shower before a workout can actually help you feel cooled down. It will also increase your circulation.
Bring it inside, if necessary. It's a good idea to use extreme caution (and consider taking your workout indoors) when the temperature is above 80 degrees and humidity is around 80 percent.
Watch for health warning signs. Heat cramps are usually the first indicator that you're overdoing it in the warm weather. Look for muscle spasms and tightness.
The signs of heat exhaustion (which is more serious) are extreme fatigue, dizziness, fainting, or vomiting. Your skin temperature may get cold and clammy or very hot and dry. For example if you feel goose bumps and chilly even though it's hot, you should stop exercising immediately and drink fluids.
Tricks for Motivation
When it seems like you can get sweaty just from walking to and from the car in muggy, hot weather, working out may seem impossible.
Here are a few ideas to take enough pressure off your activities to get you burning calories:
Look at some new routes that feature more shade or are near cool water. Check out local parks, neighborhood trails through the woods, or a breezy beach.
Watch out for asphalt. Consider running on dirt or gravel paths that don't hold and radiate massive amounts of heat back at you.
Adjust your expectations. Lower the intensity of your outdoor workouts by changing your pace, or changing interval times. You can also reduce the overall time of being outdoors by slowing down a bit but incorporating interval bursts. You'll burn the same amount of calories but spend less time outside.
Warm Weather Alternative Workouts
Doing your usual outdoor workouts, like jogging or biking, at a reduced intensity is important. Some days, however, it's a good idea to mix it up when the heat is really high. Here are a few great summer exercise ideas that give a complete workout.
Hiking in the Mountains: The higher elevations mean much cooler temperatures than the areas below. Look for local mountains, if you can. Otherwise, try a trip to the Rockies or Appalachian Mountains.
Beach Jogging: Take off your shoes and take in the scenery and breeze. Not only will you be getting a better view, but running on sand decreases the stress on your body compared to harder surfaces.
Hot Yoga: If you normally do hot yoga indoors, look for outdoor sessions in local parks during the summer.
Stand up (SUP) Paddleboarding: Not only will you be right next to the water if you get overheated, you'll get a full body workout. You can burn almost 400 calories an hour while still enjoying this relaxing activity.
Swimming: Another total body workout, you'll stay cool while burning more calories than almost any other type of exercise.
Gardening: Surprisingly, serious gardening can burn a lot of calories (and make your yard beautiful at the same time). Taking care of weeds and digging holes, plus raking and lifting add up to an average calorie burn of almost 250.
Remember, don't let your progress slip just because it's summer! Use these tips to stay safe, have fun, and nail your healthy goals.