Summer workout 101

Now more than ever, people want to get in shape. It’s summer, for crying out loud, and we all want to show off our hard work. I don’t blame you, man!

Summer seems like the perfect time to jog around our favorite park or play a team sport in a beautiful sunny field. However, it can also be the worst time to exercise outdoors, since tons of factors weigh in on your body that you wouldn’t have to worry about on a normal overcast-Portland winter day. Mainly: sun, sun, sun.

Yes, the sun is a beautiful thing, but we must all take precautions when we’re out there sweating in its presence. This is not to say you should opt for gym exercising or hiding out in your house like a vampire; it simply means that with a few extra imperative steps, your workout and your body will benefit greatly.

Keep hydrated: Truthfully, you should be doing this anyway, regardless of the time of year and whether or not you’re out exercising. But when it’s hot and sunny, you should be drinking a ton more water than usual.

Drink a couple glasses of water before heading out into the sun, take a bottle of water with you and try to take a few sips every 15 minutes or so. At the end of your workout, drink a couple more glasses of water. Hydration is everything.

Lather up: I know sunscreen smells and feels weird, but it also protects your precious skin from getting burned. Ideally, you’d want to wear as much clothing as possible to avoid direct sun exposure, but when it’s hot, that can become nearly impossible to do. Instead, make sure to lather up any exposed areas with tons of sunscreen. If you’re out there for a while, don’t forget to reapply.

Watch the sun: It may seem obvious to some, but please don’t decide to run a 5k in the middle of the day when it’s 90 degrees out. Be wise as to what time of day you’re going to choose to work out. The early morning is ideal, since it’s nice and cool and the sun is barely making an appearance. Also, the late afternoon near sundown is a good time to head out; although it may still be warm out, the sun won’t be boring down on you relentlessly.

Dress the part: There’s no need to wear fancy spandex or super tight outfits to your workout. In fact, it does more harm than good. Your body needs to ventilate in order to cool off and work efficiently. Do yourself a favor and choose comfortable clothes that give your body room to breathe. Also, avoid dark clothing that attracts the sun. Opt for lighter colors such as whites, yellows, oranges, etc.

Listen and take heed: Your body will tell you when it’s having a hard time. Please listen to it! There’s a thin line between pushing yourself to achieve a better workout and flat-out harming yourself.

Be aware of where that line lies and, more importantly, don’t ignore these signs. If this means taking a long break under a shady tree or calling it quits, then so be it. Your health should be your number one priority, no matter what.