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There should be no reason to give up on outdoor exercise during the summer. With a little planning, you can continue to derive health benefits from running and other forms of exercise. You can pause that gym membership and get outdoors and be on your way to training like elite athletes. The question is:
What should you know before heading out to run a few miles during peak summer months?
Stay fit and healthy with the following top health tips for runners. Learn what to do and what to avoid as you run or exercise outdoors this summer.
Stretching before and after a run may prevent injury. Runners can encounter a range of running surfaces when running on park paths or along paved surfaces. Lower-body stretching of hamstrings and muscle groups commonly used during running may loosen tight muscles and make it easier to adapt to various running surfaces. Stretching post-run is often recommended to avoid injury and recover from micro-tears in soft tissue.
2. Wear Light-colored Clothes
Darker colored clothes will retain more heat than light-colored clothes. Light-colored cotton and moisture-wicking fabrics make it easier for the body to cool itself down during intense workouts while outdoors. Why make your body work harder? Switch to light-colored clothes for your summer workouts and give your body a break.
If you are running, you will sweat. Add in summer temperatures and high humidity levels and runners may become more likely to experience lightheadedness, confusion, fatigue and other early signs of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses. In addition to heat stroke, runners are more prone to cramps when they get dehydrated. Water is your friend. Keep plenty of water on hand and drink before you are thirsty to avoid heat exhaustion. Even if you are not thirsty, you should still make sure to drink plenty of water -- when you do get thirsty, you can already be mildly dehydrated.
4 . Schedule Runs
You can still run during the summer. However, like with other outdoor activities and exercises, it is not generally recommended to run during the hottest part of the day. Schedule runs for early morning hours or the late afternoon/evening. Run when it is cooler and benefit from exercise without overtaxing the body. This schedule also allows you to rev up for the day or de-stress from a busy day. Those that must run during the middle of the day should run in shady areas or limit their usual distance.
5. Be Aware
You could have run last week without any issues. However, your body may show subtle signs that you may need to shorten a run or walk at any time. Being aware of how your body feels in the present moment and responding accordingly can help you avoid a heat-related illness or preventable injury. In addition, running outdoors is different than running on treadmills. There are more environmental factors, distractions and surface changes to take into consideration when running outdoors. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings to avoid an injury.
It is important for many runners and athletes to maintain their physical condition throughout the year, whether or not they are in training. Remember to ease up on certain expectations and you can still enjoy and benefit from regular summer exercise outdoors. Find an urgent care location near you to speak with a healthcare professional at MedPost Urgent Care to learn how to best modify your run or exercise routine for summer months.