For most of us, the heat of the summer and fall can present a significant barrier to exercise (which is hard enough by itself!).

Even seemingly simple activities like taking a walk can seem impossible, as you look out your window at the heat waves rolling across the pavement. However, physical activity is an important part of living healthfully, as it can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and boost cognition and mood.

Here are some tips that may help you keep up your physical activity levels, despite the balmy weather:


1. Choose exercise wisely.

Pick an activity that will not lend itself to overheating. Pool activities such as swimming, water aerobics and other classes, and even walking in the shallow end of the pool can help you stay active while keeping you cool. Indoor exercises classes (with the exception of yoga) often have very cold rooms to keep people cool as their body temperature rises. By choosing the right activity, you are already making yourself more likely to stick to your exercise goals.

2. Time it right.

Early afternoon is the hottest part of the day, so if you are going to exercise outdoors, try to avoid the 12pm-3pm times. Mornings are typically cooler than evenings. Behaviorally, I recommend exercising first-thing in the morning, to help you start the day grounded and already feeling accomplished.

3. Use cooling gear.

Dry-fit shirts and pants, cooling hats, cooling towels, and a lot of other equipment can be found at sporting goods stores and online. My favorite item is a cooling towel, as I use it as a sweat absorber and it stays cool for hours.

4. Drink water, then drink more water.

It is important to remember that when it is hot outside, your body has to remain hydrated in order to regulate your body temperature inside. Drink lots and lots of water before, during, and after exercise, and remember that even if you are in a pool and feel cool, you are still sweating!

5. Do fun things, indoors.

Last but not least, especially if you are not someone who is partial to exercising in classes and gyms, remember that movement and activity is really the goal. Find indoor activities that are fun and adventurous, or that give you a social outlet, but still require moving. Get creative as you think about what would make you happy, and still keep you moving.

Here are some ideas: bowling, indoor racquetball, rock climbing, drum lessons, pottery classes, hula lessons, going shopping. Wear an activity tracker so you know what you’ve accomplished!

By Ashley Uyeshiro Simon, OTD, OTR/L