Beat the heat with these tips for staying safe in the summer sun.

Heat and Exercise: How to Exercise Safely In the Heat

Across much of the U.S., hot summer weather is arriving even earlier than usual this year. And we all know that when it’s hot out, there are some precautions necessary to stay cool and exercise safely. At the same time, though, don’t let summer heat interfere with your fitness goals. Here’s how to work up a sweat while staying cool.

Timing is Everything

Consider working out first thing in the morning or at the end of the day to avoid the mid-day heat. If you do hike, ride or run in the middle of the day, try to choose a route that will keep you in the shade as much as possible.

Adapt to Conditions

When exercising in hotter weather, take it easy. Gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.

Stay Hydrated

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Instead, make hydration part of your routine all day long. Intense activities for 75+ minutes (or less-intense activities for an extended period) may also call for a sports drink during your workout to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Look at nutritional labels for minimal sugar. The good news is, there is a wide variety of hydration gear available to make it easier to carry the water you need.

Dress for Sports Success

Did you know you heat up faster in dark colors? Meanwhile light colors, particularly white, reflect away the heat. It’s also important to choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Moisture- and sweat-wicking fabrics dry quickly and keep you from feeling sticky.

Wear Sunscreen

Rule of thumb: Put on sunscreen anytime you’re going to be outside for any length of time. Not only does sunscreen protect you from skin cancer, it can help keep you cool in the long run since having a sunburn makes you feel hotter. Here’s how to choose the right sunscreen and apply it properly.

Beware Warning Signs

Above all, stop if you start to feel weak, dizzy, or overheated. Heat-related illness can become serious very quickly, so know the signs and be aware. It’s also important to note that some medications increase the chances for heat related illness.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.