Life in Arizona is full of countless benefits: beautiful weather (almost) year round, endless days of sunshine, and access to so many different spaces of natural beauty. However, when summer comes around, it can seem like Arizona may not be the best place to help you stay fit.
The temperature in the summer can become brutal. We usually stay in the steady 100 degree temperatures and sometimes creep up to temperatures as hot as 115 degrees. If you enjoy staying fit and would prefer to exercise outdoors instead of in a gym, it is possible to still maintain your workout routine during these peak summer months.
Taking the proper precautions for physical activity is of the utmost importance to keep you and your body safe. If you have lived in the Valley of the Sun for a few years, you know that some serious injuries and fatalities come from people who don’t adequately prepare to exercise in such extreme weather.
Even though braving the triple digit temperatures can be a bit unnerving, we are here to help you take the proper steps to safely exercise in extreme heat.
The four primary tips you should follow before exercising in the summer are:
- Dress properly
- Avoid direct sun
- Choose the right time
If you follow these guidelines and listen to your body’s signals while working out in the peak of summer, you will be able to maintain your fitness routine without jeopardizing your health.
One thing Arizonans do not joke about is the importance of hydration. Even during the cooler months of the year, you will see people still consume a large amount of water on a daily basis. With how dry and hot the weather can get here, staying hydrated isn’t just a hobby for people, it’s a necessity. Even when you aren’t about to exercise, it is so important to take hydration seriously, especially during the summer. Drinking your eight glasses (or more) of water each day will be a huge help when you are attempting a workout in 100+ degree heat.
Be sure that you are drinking a lot of water before, during and after your workout. Some people prefer the taste of sports drinks over water, but when you are facing such harsh conditions, nothing will leave you better off than plain old H20. If you are planning on going for a long hike or a long run, be sure that you bring enough water with you to keep you hydrated. Running out of water would not only be an inconvenience, but it could lead to some serious health issues as well.
After your workout, instead of reaching for a Gatorade to help replenish your electrolytes, try snacking on something that is a more natural source of energy for your body. Chocolate milk, olives, seaweed, bananas, leafy green vegetables, yogurts, nuts, and nut butters will all help your body to recover after a tough workout.
2. Dress Properly
Even though yoga pants and a light jacket might work for an outdoor workout in the fall or spring, those clothing options do not fit the bill for summer exercising. Shorts and tank tops are a must during this time of year. You don’t want to just grab an old cotton shirt from your dresser before you hit the pavement; you want to find clothing that will keep you cool.
Loose fitting clothes that are light colors will be your best friend during this time of year. Picking some options that allow air to circulate and let your body breathe will be a huge help to maintain your body temperature and prevent you from getting over heated.
Always avoid dark colors when picking an outfit for your summer workout. Dark colors absorb more heat. Lighter colors do a better job of reflecting heat, ultimately helping you to stay cool. Some workout clothing lines have dry fit technology that will help keep clothes from becoming drenched in sweat and sticking to your body.
3. Avoid Direct Exposure
There is no question that the difference a bit of shade can make during the Arizona summer is substantial. Shady spots become almost as valuable as gold; you see people battling for shaded parking spots or space to walk on the shady side of the sidewalk. Even though finding a place to run or hike that is filled with shade is difficult, you can find some areas that have more shade than others. Even though we don’t have many large trees that provide us with a lot of reprieve from sun rays, it’s better to find a spot that has a little bit of shade than to go without it entirely.
Additionally, it’s good to grab some items that were specifically built for keeping the sun away from your skin. Hats, visors, sunglasses and sunscreen are all necessities for summer workouts. Don’t forget the Chap Stick!
4. Choose the Right Time
Choosing to do a spontaneous hike, run or bike ride during the summer time is a difficult task. More often than not, you will want to plan your workouts ahead of time and do them during a time of day when it’s cooler. The hottest times of the day are between noon and 4 pm, and the best time to tackle your workout will be in the early morning hours, or later in the evening.
Another thing you can do to plan your workout is to pick a location that you know will be shaded during certain hours of the day. For example, if you know that a particular hike will be mostly covered in shade at a certain time of day, make a point to do that workout during that time frame. Staying out of direct sunlight will make working out during this season that much easier.
Even if the weather is still relatively cool and hasn’t reached peak temperatures yet, it is good to start practicing these rituals early. There’s always a good deal of sunshine here in the valley and knowing how to protect yourself is key.