5 tips for exercising outdoors in warm weather

Summer break may be over, but the warm temperatures will hang around into fall. Here are some tips to help you stay comfortable during outdoor workouts.
Image: Young woman performs yoga moves on bluff above sea
Schedule workouts during the coolest points in the day: early in the morning or at dusk. Ascent/PKS Media Inc. / Getty Images
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By Stephanie Mansour

Did you put your fitness routine on pause during the summer? You’re not alone. One small study found that more than half of women delay exercise in the summer due to weather.

And while school may be officially back in session, we still have at least a month of that summer weather to contend with (or even longer depending where you live). And there are some convincing reasons to get outside and sweat.

Spending time outdoors has been shown to boost mood and can help combat anxiety and depression. It can also make for a harder workout: Research shows this is due in part to the uneven terrain leading to an increase in physical activity levels. A treadmill typically runs flat or at a steady elevation, while in nature these patterns aren’t as predictable. This research also shows that exercising in the outdoors can lead to stress reduction and an improvement in overall self-esteem. Another major selling point for exercising outdoors is the price tag. Whether you go live in a bustling city or a rural suburb, the outdoors offers free terrain, unlike having to pay for access to a treadmill at a gym.

Enjoying the last little bit of summer weather doesn’t have to be unbearable though. Here are some of my favorite tips to beat the heat and soak up a little extra Vitamin D while working out.

Exercise early or late in the day

When you work out in the morning or in the evening, you’re avoiding the hottest parts of the day, which is around 2 p.m. It’s important to also note that your risk of sunburn peaks around noon when the sun is at its highest point.

Exercising in the morning or later in the evening also allows you to choose workouts that work double duty. In the morning, a boot camp in the park or jog around the block will energize you for the day ahead, while a relaxing yoga sequence will help you wind down at night. Tailor your workouts to the time of day to take advantage of it’s benefits and get exactly what you need in that moment.

Work out in bursts

Splitting up your workouts is a great way to train if you want to make big fitness leaps quickly. In fact, many people don’t realize they’re already doing it. Doing shorter workouts throughout the week that target certain muscle groups can shave off time when you’re exercising outside as well as help isolate and tone certain body parts. You can also apply this method to each workout by trying an interval routine where you push yourself all out for one minute, then let yourself recover for 1-2 minutes. This will help regulate your body temperature and heart rate, versus pushing yourself hard straight through an entire workout.

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Take the idea of splitting up workouts even further by exercising in ‘bursts’. Think of this as interval training on a larger scale. You can sprint for one minute, ten times a day as hard as you can and it will be just as good for your body as if you sprinted for those ten minutes consecutively. Similarly, if you can get outside for a fast-paced 10 minute walk a few times a day, you can count that as your 30 minutes of exercise while minimizing being outdoors for long stretches of time.

Invest in a few products to keep yourself comfortable

Loading up on SPF and investing in a few wardrobe essentials will not only protect your skin, but also keep you comfortable in the heat. Protection from the sun should continue to be a concern, even though you're not spending long days at the beach or pool. A hat is a smart choice to help protect your face and when buying sunscreen, look for a sweat-resistant formula that will stay put as you exercise (and prevent burning eyes!).

In terms of clothing, moisture-wicking and dry-fit materials are best. Invest in a few workout tops, bottoms and socks made from fabrics such as polypropylene. This fabric is designed to pull the sweat away from your skin, which keeps your skin cooler. Avoid wearing cotton clothing. Cotton fabrics will soak up your sweat more than a dry-fit fabric will, which leaves your clothes feeling wet (one of the worst feelings when exercising!).

Get in the water

One easy way to beat the heat is to get into the water! This is a foolproof way to torch calories while staying cool. Many associate activities surrounding water to be for pleasure and not for exercise, but it is quite the opposite. While there are many factors to consider, one hour of intense swimming can burn around 500 calories, depending on the weight of the individual. If swimming laps around the pool isn’t for you, you may enjoy attending a water aerobics class. These classes can give you the opportunity to cool off as well as burn hundreds of calories.

If that doesn't work, try getting on the water instead of in it. Kayaking can burn around 500 calories per hour depending on your weight, and really works your back and shoulders. Plus, who doesn’t love watching a calming sunrise or sunset while you’re on the lake? Paddle boarding and canoeing are other ways to get in a solid workout, while soaking up the warm weather while it lasts.

Stay hydrated

Research shows that a person who doesn’t exercise needs 1.5 liters of water a day to stay sufficiently hydrated. So if you're working out, and doing it outdoors in the heat on top of it, it's even more important to that you're drinking enough water.

Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. I recommend that for every 15 minutes of working out outdoors, you drink at least an additional 8 ounces of water (and slightly more than that if you’re working out more intensely). One of my favorite ways to trick myself into drinking more water is to set time goals around how much water I'm drinking (i.e. a certain number of ounces by noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., etc.). Using the reminders app on your phone can help keep you on track.

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