For most of us, the summer sun and heat can present a significant barrier to exercise. Here are a few tips to help you stay active while beating the heat.
Summer temperatures can make even seemingly simple activities like taking a walk appear impossible. However, physical activity is an important part of healthy living, 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 your 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 exercise 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’re also more likely to stick to your exercise goals.
2. Timing is key.
Early afternoon is the hottest part of the day, so if you’re going to exercise outdoors, try to avoid activity between noon through 3 p.m. Typically, mornings are cooler than evenings. Behaviorally, I recommend exercising first thing in the morning, to help you start the day grounded and already feeling accomplished.
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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; it can serve as a sweat absorber and it stays cool for hours.
4. Drink water, then drink more water.
It’s important to remember that when it’s hot outside, your body has to remain hydrated in order to regulate your body temperature. Drink lots and lots of water before, during and after exercise, and remember that even if you’re in a pool and feel cool, you’re still sweating.
5. Take the fun indoors.
Last but not least, especially if you’re 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. Bowling, indoor racquetball, rock climbing, drum lessons, pottery classes, hula lessons, going shopping are just a few activities to consider. Wear an activity tracker so you know what you’ve accomplished.
by Ashley Uyeshiro Simon, OTD, OTR/L
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