Content and Editorial Director
We all know to slather on sunscreen and dress in layers when getting a move on outdoors. But if you’re planning on exercising outside, here are some other important safety tips you might not have considered.
Eat Complex Carbs
The night before a hot-weather workout, consume plenty of fruit, veggies, whole grains and legumes, such as lentils. The sugars will convert to glycogen, which will help your body hold on to its water supply the following day.
Take Your Antioxidants
Studies have found that taking two grams of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E daily provides extra protection against sun damage. Vitamins C, E and beta carotene also facilitate healing if you get burned.
Understand That Heat Stress Is Cumulative
You’re more likely to suffer from heat-related problems if you exercised in hot weather the previous day, even if the current day is relatively mild.
Consider Air Pollution Levels
In many cities, your local weather report also provides an Air Quality Index or Pollution Standards Index. When ozone or carbon monoxide levels are over 100, consider moving your workout indoors. Also, avoid traffic-filled streets and exercising if there’s a wildfire nearby.
Recognize That Even a Little Dehydration Raises Your Heart Rate
You should drink 16 to 32 ounces of water before you go outside, and then bring plenty with you. Be sure to hydrate regularly throughout your workout, and not just when you feel thirsty.
Don’t Blast Those Earbuds
It’s great to run, bike or hike to your favorite tunes or podcasts. But make sure volume levels are low enough that you can easily detect cars, bikes and anything else you might not be expecting.
Take Care With Allergies
If you’re allergic to pollen, plan your runs, hikes and bike rides away from any fields of weeds. And since pollen counts are highest in the morning, try to work out after 10am, or stay inside. Be sure to shower after outdoor exercise, and consider cleaning your nose with a saltwater rinse.
Always Bring an ID
You might not want to carry your driver’s license with you, but it’s a good idea to bring some form of identification when you head out to exercise. Consider a Road iD wristband, which is both engraved with your personal information and easy to slip on and off.
Know That Medications and Supplements Can Heighten Sun Sensitivity
Some antibiotics or antidepressants — including tetracycline and the herb Saint John’s wort — can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight even if you’re wearing sunscreen.
Take Extra Care When It’s Humid Out
Sweat cools your body by evaporating into the air. Exercising in hot, humid weather increases your core body temperature, stressing your body's natural cooling system as it works to maintain normal body function. So if it’s humid, start slowly, be sure to hydrate and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout.
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