The summer is upon us and for many fitness enthusiasts the idea of training indoors is painful!

Summer is the perfect time to go outside to rev up your metabolism and challenge your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Whether you’re swimming, running or cycling; the sun, heat, humidity, and thermal regulation play a big role in how we respond.

The following are some tips for training outdoors:

  • Start and stay hydrated. When we sweat, we lose not only water, but electrolytes and sodium as well. These are critical elements to keeping our bodies ability to function optimally. Carry a bottle of water or a hydration solution of your choice. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you’re not thirsty.
  • Be Aware of the Symptoms of Dehydration. Dehydration can lead to light-headedness and nauseousness. Dehydration can potentially lead to kidney failure and or, in extreme cases, death. If experiencing dehydration symptoms be sure to rehydrate slowly and over time. Too much to soon can lead to Hyponatremia (lower-than-normal level of sodium).
  • Know the Symptoms of Hyponatremia – sometimes referred to as “water intoxication,“especially when it is due to the consumption of excess water, for example during strenuous exercise, without adequate replacement of sodium. This can lead to confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, seizures or even death in extreme cases (1).
  • Consider the time of day. Unless you are training for an event that takes place in the heat of day, avoid exercising during the common peak heat times 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For heat and humidity intolerant people early and late evening may be a better option. Wear loose, light colors. Light colors help deflect heat.  Some companies offer specific running shirts and shorts made from materials meant to keep you cool.
  • Wear Sunblock /Sunscreen– People with sensitive skin who burn quickly and must spend a lot of time outdoors should always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. The U.S. FDA is also considering a ruling that would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +” because many scientists believe that there is insufficient evidence to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50 (2).
  • Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. If there’s a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs. Consider this when walking a beach path near a parkway.

Most importantly, pay attention to and respect to your body. It will let you know when it is feeling up to the challenge or may want to take it a bit easier then you initially had planned.

Remember health and fitness aren’t gained in one workout, its a cumulative process over time.

(1) http://www.medicinenet.com/hyponatremia/article.htm

(2) http://www.medicinenet.com/sun_protection_and_sunscreens/article.htm