Summer and exercise seem like a match made in heaven. The warmer weather and longer days provide plenty of opportunities to work out outdoors. Seems like a win-win situation, right?

Except more than 600 people die in the U.S. each year from extreme heat, usually while physically exerting themselves on a hot, humid day. Working out in hot weather is just one common summer fitness mistake.

Read on to learn how to stay fit this summer without compromising your health

1. Not Staying Hydrated

Working out in warm weather makes us sweat more, so it’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after each exercise session. You want to begin sipping water before you start to get thirsty. Take bottled water with you when venturing outdoors and remember to take regular breaks for a drink.

Just as important as staying hydrated is making sure you’re replacing the electrolytes your body is losing by sweating. Choose a dissolvable vitamin tablet for your water or a fitness beverage that will fortify you with electrolytes and other nutrients as you work out.

Avoid caffeinated beverages that act as a diuretic to draw hydration from your body. Likewise, resist the temptation to reward yourself after exercising with an alcoholic drink, which is also dehydrating.

2. Not Wearing Sun Protection

The sun’s rays are at their strongest during the summer. It’s vital that you wear sunscreen and other protection if you plan on being outdoors during the late morning through mid-afternoon.

Apply a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to all exposed areas including your ears, lips, hands, and feet if you’re wearing sandals. Wear sunglasses and a hat to help shield your face and scalp.

If you’ve been swimming, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen when you dry off—even if you’re using a waterproof formula. Any kind of sunscreen wears off after so many minutes. A sweaty workout will also melt away sunscreen, so reapply every couple of hours to ensure you’re protected.

Also, consider investing in a few pieces of clothing with built-in UV protection that you can wear when spending time outdoors.

3. Ignoring Heat Advisories

Exercising outdoors when there’s a heat advisory—which is usually issued when the temperature and humidity are very high—can be very dangerous. Even if you think you’re in top physical shape, the combination of poor air quality and extreme heat can raise your body temperature and cause heatstroke.

If you must work out on very hot days, limit your activity to before 10 AM or after 4 PM and stick to shady areas. Listen to your body and resist pushing yourself more than you have to.

An even better option is to take your workout indoors in an air conditioned area. This may also be a good time to try a less strenuous form of exercise such as yoga, which focuses on breathing and stretching. Read more about yoga therapy and how it can be a good substitute for regular workouts until the temperature cools down.

4. Wearing the Wrong Clothing

Obviously, your warmer weather workout wardrobe is going to consist of shorts and short-sleeved tops and tanks. But make sure you’re not wearing anything too tight and constricting on those hot days. Loose clothing that creates some space between the fabric and your skin will give a chance for sweat to evaporate, helping you feel cooler.

You should also choose workout clothing made of moisture-wicking

material so sweat can be pulled away from your body. Avoid wearing anything made of 100% cotton. It holds onto sweat like a sponge and can feel heavy.

5. Not Trying Something New

Summer is the perfect time to try a new outdoor physical activity, whether that’s tennis, mountain biking, or rollerblading. If it’s too hot, get yourself to a body of water and learn paddle boarding or go for a swim to stay cool.

Trying a new sport or physical activity or revisiting a favorite one you can’t do in the winter will keep you motivated. It will also prevent workout boredom and burnout. You’re more likely to stick to exercise that is fun for you and that you look forward to doing.

6. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Summer means more parties, weddings, and other social occasions where you may find yourself staying out longer and getting into bed later. Skimping on sleep can easily hurt your workout regimen.

For starters, you’ll find you won’t have as much energy to begin or complete a workout. But not getting enough sleep can hurt your waistline as well. Sleep deprivation messes with the hormones that regulate hunger, which means you may find yourself binging on sugary and carb-heavy snacks later in the day.

Avoid getting into this cycle by making sure you get enough shuteye each night.

7. Taking Workouts to New Heights

Hiking, biking, or running along a mountain trail may sound like the perfect way to beat the summer heat and enjoy nature. But if you’re not used to working out at high elevations, it can put a lot of stress on your body and cause you to become lightheaded. Oxygen levels drop at higher elevations, which can easily make you feel winded.

Save the more challenging workouts for sea level, or pace yourself if you’re on elevated ground.

Avoid These Summer Fitness Mistakes

With all of these warnings, it may sound like summer fitness is a bad idea, but nothing could be further from the truth. You just need to use common sense so every workout is comfortable and enjoyable.

For more tips on getting the most of your workouts no matter the time of year, explore our archive of fitness posts.

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