July 11, 2018

10 Tips for Workouts in the Summer Heat

Taking your workouts to the sunny outdoors during the summer months comes with some challenges. High heat and humidity may make for a great beach day, but it’s not so great for that afternoon bike ride. Thankfully, there are a few ways to prepare for, and even beat the heat when it comes to working out in the summer. Here are ten tips to consider before heading out into the sun.

1. Workout in the morning or evening

In most cases, early morning or later evening will be the cooler portions of the day. The sun is lower and less intense at these times. If it was cool out the night before, early morning may have the advantage. Try to target these times of day for the best comfort and safety when working out in the summer.

Summer Workout Tips

2. Optimize your hydration

Proper hydration should be a top concern whenever you plan to workout, but it is especially important on hot days. Remember that you will sweat faster and more during your hot-weather workouts, so bring more water with you that normal. Drinking cold (but not freezing) water will also help lower your core temperature, and may help you perform better during your workouts.

On the other end, skip the dehydrating foods and drinks both the day of and day before your workout. This might include alcohol, coffee and especially salty foods.

3. Cool down before you warm-up

You’ll probably want a cool shower or dive in the pool after your workout, but it may be a good idea to start with one too. Beginning your workout with an already cool core temperature puts you at an advantage, and can extend the amount of time spent outside comfortably.

Summer Workout Tips

4. Protect your skin

Hopefully your workout will be in the shade as much as possible, but chances are you will be getting some sun exposure too. Consider protecting yourself with a hat and sunglasses, and apply sunblock. A little sun is great for vitamin D, but a lot of sun is damaging to your skin. It’s a good idea to understand the UV Index during your time outside, as well as how protective your chosen sunblock will be.

5. Wear sweat-wicking gear

Natural fabrics and performance athletic clothing may be well worth the investment if you plan to be working out in the summer often. Sweating is your body’s way of keeping you cool, but it only works well if your clothing also allows for evaporation and breathability. Sticking to lighter colors may also help keep you cooler.

Summer Workout Tips

6. Go easy on yourself

No matter how much water and evaporative clothing you have, chances are your high heat workouts will still look different from the norm. Expect to give yourself time to acclimate to the heat, over a few days or even weeks. Plan to take more and/or longer breaks during your workout. You may even consider splitting up your time, doing half of your normal workout in the morning, and half later in the afternoon.

7. Know the warning signs of danger

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps are a few of the dangers of overexertion in hot weather. Know the warning signs to look out for, such as muscle cramps, dizziness and nausea. Take a break at the first sign of trouble, and assess how you are feeling. Always seek professional medical attention when needed.

Summer Workout Tips

8. Check your heart rate with a heart rate monitor

When your body’s temperature rises, it effects your heart rate. You may not be able to push as hard or work at the same level of intensity that you are used to in the heat. Know your heart rate numbers and what range is best for you to work in, and reference them during your time in the heat. If you see your heart rate getting too high, it’s probably time for a break.

9. Grab a friend

There are many benefits to working out with a friend or group. They can be a great source of encouragement and accountability. They may also be your best insurance against the dangers of overexertion. The warning signs of heat exhaustion can be easier to see in someone else, and harder to spot in yourself.

10. Consider water sports

The summer heat is a great time to consider shaking up your normal workout routine. Why not try out water sports like swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and more? When the weather is just too hot to bear, or the only free time you have falls mid-day, it may be time to swap your bike for a boat and give some water-based activities a try!


For more ways to workout in the summer, check out our Free Running Map of the Charles River, swim lesson options, and summer instructional programs.