Don’t Sweat it: Our Guide to Exercising Outside

exercising outdoors

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979-2003. For many, summer offers the best opportunity to get your workout in outdoors but harsh heat can pose a real threat to your health and wellbeing. Planning ahead will keep your outdoor workouts safe and fun.

Heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, occur when your body can’t cool itself properly. In extreme cases, overheating can hurt the brain and other vital organs. Sweat normally keeps us cool, but in some cases, sweat just can’t keep up with your body.

Learn all about exercising outside with these helpful tips!

Plan for the Heat

Schedule your outdoor exercise around the coolest part of the day: early in the morning or after nightfall. Take advantage of shaded paths. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing. Choose cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics that allow air to circulate without chafing. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sports-suitable sunscreen.

Stay Hydrated

We can’t say this enough: drink more water! In high heat and humid conditions, it’s easy to underestimate how much water you need to drink. The CDC directs you to drink 16-32 oz. of water each hour during heavy exercise in a hot environment. If you have a hard time keeping up with that amount, try using flavored water—add a wedge of lime to your water bottle or try a sports drink. If you aren’t on a salt-restricted diet, you can allow yourself a few more salty snacks (like pretzels and chips and salsa) to replenish the sodium lost through sweat.

Dress Appropriately

Exercising outside means you are waving goodbye to the comforts of your indoor gym. For many, that’s the allure—but dressing properly is important. If you plan to break a sweat in a wooded area, put a light jacket over your favorite tank top to make sure you are fully clothed. If you’re working out in a park or on a pathway with little to no shade, make sure to wear a hat and load up on the SPF.

Be Cautious of Overheating

Exercising raises your body temperature, and when the air is hotter than your body, heat can’t dissipate into the air. To make the situation worse, heat gets trapped in dark-colored asphalt and the sun reflects off water, sand and glass, bombarding you with heat from every direction. This environment is ripe for heat-related illness, but with some good sense, you can still enjoy your time outside, without having to pay for it later.

Pace Yourself

Focus on the experience when exercising outdoors and don’t expect to set personal records. To avoid over-working yourself, wear your heart rate monitor and know your target heart rate for your age and fitness level. The American Council on Exercise even provides a heart rate calculator!

Find an Exercise Buddy or Group

Working out is always way more fun when you do it with friends. It’s also safer—and when you’re exercising outside, safety is top of mind. There are lots of local exercise groups on Facebook and some Anytime Fitness clubs offer free outdoor workouts in the month of May to kick off a summer of fitness fun. Check with your local Anytime Fitness to see where you can find May Free Workouts!

What’s your favorite perk of exercising outside?

Tell us in the comments!

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Ranked #1 on Entrepreneur magazine’s prestigious "Top Global Franchise" list and #2 in the “Franchise 500” list, Anytime Fitness is the fastest-growing fitness club franchise in the world, with more than 2.5 million members and 3,000 clubs worldwide. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Anytime Fitness prides itself on providing our members with surprisingly personable service in convenient and well-maintained facilities which feature top-quality exercise equipment. Clubs are now open in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Grand Cayman, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Qatar, Chile, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, and China. Join one club and use them all. Franchised clubs are individually owned and operated. Members also enjoy free access to AnytimeHealth.com, the most comprehensive wellness website available.