By Matthew Price, Contributor to Aunt Bertha
Do the dog days of summer have you thinking it’s too hot to work out? There are several options available to keep your fitness routine going while keeping cool. The following dozen ideas can help you maintain an exercise routine when the summer heat gets to be too much if you absolutely must brave the outdoor heat.
Time your workout. You don’t want to go for a run in the absolute worst heat of the day. Going for an early-morning run or timing your exercise for early or late in the day avoids the worst of the heat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, exercising in the morning or evening can help you stay fit while avoiding some potential heat dangers. James Graham, ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in Running Springs, CA, recommends an early-morning run or bike ride when late-day temperatures are expected to rise. “The sunrise provides great inspiration and the activity a powerful kick-start to your day,” Graham said.
Try precooling. Shape Magazine recommends taking a cold shower or downing an icy drink prior to your hot weather workout. This has shown improved performance in some laboratory settings. And be sure to stay hydrated throughout your workout; with even more hydration lost through sweat, it’s important to drink plenty of water during a workout in the warm weather. Graham suggests drinking 16-24 ounces of water before exercise and at least 6-8 ounces every 30 minutes while active.
Stay in the shade, suggests the veterans’ health site at myhealth.va.gov. The site also recommends drinking plenty of water and protecting your skin with sunscreen, a light-colored, loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt, and a cap.
But seriously, wear a cap, preferably soaked. Swedish triathlete Annie Thorén, at Redbull.com would take that cap a little further. “A good tip is to use a cap that you soak in water every so often, to keep the head as cool as possible,” she says at the site, indicating that the head is the most important body part to keep cool.
But first, check the weather. The National Institute on Aging recommends checking the weather forecast. If it seems too hot to trot, the Institute recommends exercising online with Go4Life videos found at go4life.nia.nih.gov/workout-videos/. You can also try indoor activities such as walking at a local shopping mall or grocery store, or visiting a local recreation center for a swim. “For cardiovascular health, the goal is to achieve and maintain an active heart rate for 20-30 minutes, five days a week,” Graham said. “During hot summer months, hit the local community pool. Aerobic water-based exercise will not only keep you cool, the added resistance will engage more muscle.” Check your local YMCA for programs.
You can stay home. Don’t want to leave the house? The National Institute of Health recommends putting your inside stairs to good use with a few trips up and down to get your exercise in. Graham also recommends resistance bands, available for $5-$15, and body weight exercise for indoor workouts.
Go on strike. According to the Mayo Clinic, bowling can burn around 275 calories per hour, and mdmag.com reports three games of bowling will net more than 3,000 steps taken for the average bowler.
Bottle it up. According to Livestrong.com, a full 16-ounce water bottle weighs about a pound, and is appropriate to use in place of dumbbells for exercises including arm curls and arm overhead extensions. A higher number of reps can be used if this is too light. The site also recommends additional exercises with a gallon jug to provide greater resistance during strength-training exercises.
Bring a buddy. The National Institute of Health encourages exercising with a friend or family member to help with motivation. An extra benefit in the heat is an extra pair of eyes in case of signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Graham says to cease exercise immediately if you begin to experience dizziness, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, confusion, or dark urine as these may be signs of heat exhaustion. He also recommends consulting your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Binge-watch your way to fitness. YouTube, Hulu, and other streaming services offer yoga and other indoor exercise videos, which can be done away from the scorching outdoor heat. Many are free, though some require subscriptions or payment as you go.
Winter workouts still work in the summer. Active magazine recommends indoor exercises like pushups, situps and a full-body plank to beat the cold in the winter; but those exercises work indoors in the summer, too! See their full list at their 30-minute indoor workout article.
You can dance. Moneycrashers suggests several exercise options that don’t require equipment. One of them is dancing; fire up a playlist and boot-scoot your way around the living room to a fitter you. Too much junk in the way to cut a rug? You’re in luck. Cleaning also provides exercise benefits, potentially burning north of 150 calories an hour (depending on weight and activity level).
Looking for more options? Connect with community resources in your area who may have free or discounted indoor fitness programs. You can search for these organizations on AuntBertha.com.
Matthew Price is the former features editor for The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City. He can be found online at matthewLprice.com.