Summer months are usually a time when you can easily up your activity level by spending more time walking outdoors and trying new activities like hiking, swimming and cycling. But as the temperature starts to creep up, extreme heat can bring its own challenges, especially when you’re trying to increase your step count. Here are six tips to help you stay on track with your walking routine during the hottest months of the year:
INVEST IN THE RIGHT GEAR
Cotton T-shirts and spandex leggings aren’t ideal choices for hot weather since they trap heat and sweat. Instead, invest in light-colored shirts, tank tops and shorts that are made of moisture-wicking materials designed for exercising outdoors in extreme temperatures. These items keep your skin dry, make you feel cooler and are more comfortable. It’s also a smart idea to wear a lightweight hat and sunglasses that shield your face and eyes from the sun.
WALK EARLY OR LATE
While a late morning or lunchtime walk can be a great idea in the spring and fall, during the summer, the sun’s UV index is highest between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Add in the rising temperatures during this time of day and it’s easy to see why the early morning and late evening hours are better choices for exercise. Getting in your workout first thing in the morning also makes it less likely you skip your walk altogether.
What’s more, exercising early in the day can also help boost your metabolism while an evening walk can aid digestion. If you opt for an evening walk, try closer to 8 p.m. when the sun is starting to set.
SPLIT UP YOUR WORKOUTS
If you’re into long-distance walking, getting in all of your miles at once can be a challenge during the summer — especially if you aren’t an early riser. Instead of suffering through a two-hour walk in extreme heat, consider breaking it up and walking half the distance in the morning and the other half in the evening.
Or, you can split up your workout in one session by starting outdoors and finishing on the treadmill.
Not all neighborhoods are lined with shady trees, which is why it’s always a good idea to wear lighter colors in summer and use high SPF sunscreen. While you might have to drive to get there, try heading to a trail or multi-use path out of direct sunlight to stay cool. If you can get away from the asphalt (which absorbs and holds heat), that’s even better. Walking on hilly terrain also burns more calories, so you won’t have to walk as far as you might normally to achieve the same weight-loss benefits. You can always listen to a good audio book and get your workout done on a treadmill, too.
GET SERIOUS ABOUT HYDRATION
For anyone planning to walk more than 30 minutes at a time in hot weather, it’s a good idea to carry a water bottle or hydration pack. Staying hydrated throughout the day, in addition to when you exercise, helps your overall health, performance and weight-loss goals. It’s also a good idea to consider consuming a hydration beverage with electrolytes, important minerals that are lost via sweat.
SLOW YOUR PACE
It takes more energy to walk at the same pace in the heat when compared to moderate temperatures. Because of this, slowing your pace to match the temperatures is a good way to stay safe and avoid heat exhaustion. If you feel like your internal body temperature is rising and you notice you aren’t sweating as much, take a break to sip on some water and cool down. As a general rule, try to save intervals or other high-intensity workouts for cooler-temperature walks.