Sun and Sweat: Safe Ways to Exercise in the Sun
There’s no denying it – summer is the peak season for outdoor exercise! If you love the great outdoors, then you know how much you long for the summer temperatures to arrive. But it’s important to remember that working out in the sun can be hazardous to your health. Follow these tips to exercise smart on a sunny day.
Drink plenty of fluids. A good rule of thumb is to take a few sips of water every 20 minutes or so. If it’s inconvenient to carry your own water, exercise in an area, such as a public park, that has plenty of strategically-placed water fountains. If you sweat a lot, consider foregoing regular water for sports drinks loaded with electrolytes to replace the potassium your body loses through perspiration.
Cut back on the intensity. Heatstroke can easily sneak up on people who try to push their limits and fail to take the hot sun into consideration. A bright day is not the best one to test your limits. Save your hardest workouts for cooler, overcast days.
Avoid peak hours. The sun is at its most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try not to exercise outdoors during that time.
Wear plenty of sunscreen. Slather on an SPF of 30 or higher at least a half-hour before you head outside. If your workout is a long one—say, a long-distance bike ride or run—bring a portable spray or stick of sunscreen along for easy reapplication. Also, look for a sport formula that is sweat-resistant so it won’t wear off too quickly.
Protect your eyes. Eyes can sustain a sunburn just as easily as skin does, so cover them up with sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. If you already have a pair and aren’t sure if they’re providing enough protection, take them to your ophthalmologist, who should be able to test their effectiveness.
Cover yourself. It may feel counterintuitive to cover your skin on a sunny day, but wearing clothing that covers normally exposed areas may be the best way to avoid a sunburn and long-term sun damage. However, it’s a bad idea to wear heavy cottons and “sweat suits”—look for specially made clothing that is lightweight, moisture-wicking and sun protective.
These are easy, good habits to live by.