7 Warm Weather Exercise Essentials

Article posted in: Fitness
Tired woman sweating after running on road

If you’re heading outside to exercise, congratulations: You’re cutting your risk of stroke, heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes by as much as 50 percent. You’re lowering your risk of death by 30 percent.

And maybe more importantly, you’re enjoying the world around you—the weather, the natural environment, parts of your neighborhood or community that you might not see every day. Science says you’ll improve your mood, and you can aid in your weight loss efforts. But before you strap on your shoes, grab these seven warm weather exercise essentials for healthier and safer exercise outside:

Must-have 1: Sunscreen
If you’re doing good stuff for your body—getting exercise, soaking up some Vitamin D and breathing fresh air—don’t let the sun do bad stuff to you. About 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to ultraviolet radiation, according to one British study. It’s no wonder dermatologists recommend wearing some SPF every day, even if you don’t easily burn. Choose a waterproof version so you won’t sweat it all away, and remember to reapply throughout the day.

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Must-have 2: Water
When you’re dehydrated by as little as two percent, your exercise performance will be negatively affected. If you are dehydrated as little as five percent, your capacity for physical work decreases by as much as 30 percent, according to some studies. So drinking water means a more effective workout.

But it’s more than that: As we age—especially after age 50—our ability to recognize thirst decreases, and some common medications can make it even worse. And mild dehydration can come with not-so-mild health consequences like irritability, memory issues, headaches and constipation. So bring a bottle and drink it before you feel thirsty.

Must-have 3: Sunglasses
The sun doesn’t just damage skin: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, at least 10 percent of cataract cases are caused by UV exposure—with more than a million cataract operations per year, that’s a lot of sun damage to the eyes. If you’re lucky enough to avoid that, the sun can cause serious eye discomfort, too: Excessive UV exposure can burn your cornea—which means you’ll have sunburn in your eye—according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. So pop on a pair of sunnies and stay protected. Bonus: You’ll look cool in your shades.

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Must-have 4: Light, loose clothing
Sure, desert dwellers wear dark, black robes in the desert, but scientists say they stay cool because the fabric is thick—and the thick fabric doesn’t transfer heat to the skin. If you’re moving and grooving, thick’s no good. Go light, and go for a light color. Tight clothing can cling sweat to your skin and cause chafing, and light colors deflect more heat than dark clothes will. And if your walk or ride goes long and it gets dark, you’ll be much easier for passing cars to spot and avoid.

Must-have 5: Breathable socks… in sneakers that fit
One of the common, not-so-great side effects of running—especially running downhill—is black, bruised toenails that fall off. This is often caused by footwear: When socks get slick, the foot slides around in your shoe, slamming into the front of the shoe and bruising the nails. This happens especially during downhill running or hiking. To minimize this, choose socks designed to breathe well and wick away moisture, keeping your feet dry. And consider visiting a running shoe-specific store to get fitted by an expert—better-fitting shoes will mean more comfortable hikes and runs, which could make your exercise program easier to stick to.

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Must-have 6: Identification
It’s not pleasant to think about, but if you’re going to be by yourself—whether it’s at the local track, on a road, in a park or even a few blocks away—carrying ID could be the key to getting life-saving treatment and reaching your loved ones in case of a medical emergency. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying your wallet or don’t want to risk losing your driver’s license in a pocket while you run, consider getting an exercise identification bracelet like the ones available on roadid.com.

Must-have 7: A plan… and a way to track your progress
No matter what kind of exercise you choose, a plan can help you get out the door and not waste time—you already know that you plan to walk for 30 minutes, or hike to the top of a local hill, or play tennis with your friend at 10:30. It’s one less excuse to keep you from getting out to enjoy the weather.

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Tracking your exercise is just as important: In multiple studies, exercisers and dieters who tracked their progress enjoyed more progress than those who didn’t. Borrow the idea of “progressive resistance” from weightlifting: Every time you go out, try to do a little more than you did in the last workout. If that’s one more minute walking, another 30 seconds biking or one extra lunge, you’ve made progress.

And even if you don’t, keep track of something else: Your victories. When you finish a workout, list three victories you can take from the exercise session and celebrate. Maybe it’s just that you got up and got out. Maybe you did more than yesterday. Maybe you appreciated a cool breeze that you wouldn’t have noticed in the past. Or maybe you came up with a great new idea to implement at home or at work. Find three things to celebrate and write them down. They’ll help you feel great about exercise, so you go out and do it again soon.