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Summer days are meant to be filled with picnics, strolls, and swimming — not heat exhaustion. You can embrace the outdoors even when temperatures rise by being mindful of timing, clothing, and your body’s own signals.

  • Timing is everything. The sun is strongest at noon, yet heat typically builds through the afternoon and often peaks between 3 and 5­ p.m. Schedule outdoor activities, such as running or biking, either first thing in the morning or later in the evening. And pay attention to seasonal changes too: Hold off on exercising in warm weather until your body is acclimated to the heat, the Mayo Clinic advises.
  • Dress for success. Light-colored clothing reflects, rather than absorbs, the sun’s rays. Loose-fitting clothing helps sweat do its work. Wide-brimmed hats serve as a ­personal source of shade. For a quick hit of cool, place some ice in a bandana before wrapping it around your neck or forehead.
  • And don’t forget the SPF — to prevent burns and more. According to a 2019 study involving only subjects with light to moderate skin pigmentation, sunscreen may also help maintain — and actually increase — nitric oxide levels and blood flow to the skin, which helps regulate body temperature. (Here are some of our favorite nontoxic sunscreens to try.)
  • Take it easy. What was an easy workout in the spring may be downright debilitating during the dog days of summer, especially when it’s humid (sweat needs to evaporate to cool the body, but humidity hinders evaporation). Watch for the warning signs of heat exhaustion — rapid heartbeat, dizziness, muscle cramps, and headache — and be sure to stay hydrated and in the shade as much as possible.

This was excerpted from “14 Tips to Stay Cool During the Summer” which was published in Experience Life.

Alexandra Smith, MA, LPCC

Alexandra Smith, MA, LPCC, is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Minneapolis and an Experience Life contributing editor.

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