Feel the burn from your workout, not the hot weather
Summer officially arrives this month. With the warmer weather comes numerous opportunities for us to explore, exercise in and enjoy the great Canadian outdoors. That includes the 38 national parks, hundreds of lakes — Canada has more lake area than anywhere else in the world — and thousands of kilometres of hiking and running trails.
Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
- Increased energy
- Reduced negative emotions, including depression, stress and anger
- Enhanced feelings of positivity
- Extra motivation to work out longer and more often
4 Tips for Exercising Safely in the Summer Heat
No matter what form of outdoor exercise we do this summer, whether it’s trail sprints, stand-up paddle boarding, forest yoga, or an afternoon walk around the block, we should follow these summer safety tips to keep our bodies in top shape while we enjoy Mother Nature’s gym.
1. Don’t steal my sunshine
The UV index measures the strength of the sun’s damaging rays on a range from 0 to 11+. Once the UV index hits 3 or higher, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends that we take extra precautions against sunburns to help prevent skin cancer:
- Limit our time in the sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from April through September, when UV strength peaks in most areas of Canada.
- Cover up with pants and long-sleeved shirts, which guard against sun damage better than sunscreen. When picking fabric, one gym study found that polyester workout clothes fostered more bacteria growth and smelled worse after exercise than cotton workout clothes.
- Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and reapply when sweating.
2. Drop it like it’s hot
Unless we’ve been training in the heat for a couple weeks and have acclimatized to exercising in summer temperatures, our bodies are prone to heat stress. While everyone’s bodies are different, the heat stress index for most of us is as follows:
- At 27 degrees Celsius or lower, there’s little to no danger of heat stress.
- 27-32 degrees C: Heat fatigue may occur during prolonged exposure.
- 32-41 degrees C: Risks of heat cramps and heat exhaustion rise.
- 41-54 degrees C: Heatstroke is possible and we’ll likely experience heat cramps and heat exhaustion.
- Higher than 54 degrees C: Stay indoors and save the outdoor workout for another day.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety warns that signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, include muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, nauseous or irritable. Avoid exercising at high-risk temperatures, and if you start to feel any symptoms of heat exhaustion, seek shade, spritz yourself with water and strip off as much clothing as you can.
3. With every breath I take
Canada has some of the cleanest air in the world, reports the World Economic Forum. However, that doesn’t make us immune to the risks of air pollution. The World Health Organization notes that air pollution in our rural and urban areas contribute to asthma, heart disease, stroke and more.
Before heading outside, check the Air Quality Health Index in your region. It’s available daily on Environment Canada’s website. The agency issues reports on a rolling 24-hour basis and warns us when the air quality isn’t suitable for outdoor activities.
4. What good can drinkin’ do?
We lose a lot of water when working out in the heat of summer. Staying hydrated starts long before we exercise. The day before a planned outdoor adventure, men should be getting an average of 3.7 litres of fluids while women should aim for an average of 2.7 litres of fluids. When in doubt, pee it out! If you’re well hydrated, your urine should run clear.
Once we’re sweating, we should aim to sip approximately 10 ounces of fluids every 20 minutes. For an extra health boost, toss a single-serving pouch of LeanFit’s 100% Whey or completegreen protein powders into a backpack or running belt for an on-the-go beverage that’s rich in amino acids and electrolytes.
No matter how we choose to enjoy the Canadian outdoors, “keep close to Nature’s heart,” says naturalist John Muir. “Break clear away once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
This summer, follow the above tips to safely experience the rejuvenating, spirit-cleansing benefits of exercising out in nature.