May 20, 2024

Just because the mercury’s climbing doesn’t mean you have to abandon your exercise regimen. Stay active and cool with these summer fitness tips.

With high temperatures and stifling humidity, mid-South summers can be a bit on the sizzling side. While skipping exercise in favor of a glass of sweet tea on the porch might sound nice, you’ll boost your health and energy level if you stay active this season. You don’t have to slog it out on a treadmill in the air-conditioned gym all summer, though. We’ve got some suggestions that will infuse some summer fitness fun into your routine and keep you cool to boot. Plus, we’ve included safety tips for exercising in the heat.

  1. Get on the water

With plenty of lakes and rivers, Middle Tennessee has lots of on-water activities that will help you build strength and get your heart pumping. Try standup paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking or canoeing. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent from a local outfitter. Many SUP rental locations also offer fitness classes on the board ranging from yoga to boot camp style.

  1. Hit the trails

Paved run/walk paths will radiate heat. But if you opt for a trail run or hike, you’ll likely be treated to a cooler workout, thanks to a canopy of trees providing shade. In Nashville, the grass-covered back trails at Shelby Bottoms Greenway or the hilly trails in the Warner Parks system offer respite from the city. If you’ve got the time, head for one of Middle Tennessee’s beautiful waterfall hikes. Many — like Short Springs, Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls — offer swimming holes or places to take a cooling dip.

  1. Join a sports league

When you’re hanging out with friends and playing a game, summer fitness will automatically feel like fun. Many sports league practices and games take place in the evenings when temperatures are a bit more tolerable. Plus, you can indulge in a cold beverage and camaraderie with the team after.

  1. Relish the indoors

Some days are going to be too sweltering for an enjoyable outdoor workout. Try a new class where the beats and the AC blast, like indoor cycling. As an added bonus, many indoor cycling studios offer sessions in the dark, which can be a great escape from the bright sun.

Tips for keeping cool and safe while working out in hot weather

Steamy temps can present the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke or exhaustion. Plus, whenever you exercise outdoors, it’s essential to be mindful of sun exposure. Take these precautions.

  • Take time to acclimate. If you’re new to exercising in hot temps or if the season has just shifted to warmer weather, your body needs time to adapt. Keep your outdoor sessions shorter than usual and go easy. According to the journal Sports Medicine, your body may need one to two weeks to acclimate.
  • Be on the lookout for early symptoms of heat-related illness. Stop your workout and find shade if you feel weak, nauseated, feverish or dizzy or if you experience muscle cramps. Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or do not go away.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if possible. That window is when the sun is the highest and temps will be the hottest.
  • Keep hydrated. Drink water before, during and after exercise.
  • Wear sweat-wicking clothing. Fabrics, like bamboo or nylon, lift sweat away from your body and dry quickly. Avoid cotton. It traps moisture and heat against your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat too. Make these items a regular part of your outdoor workout gear.
  • Slather on a waterproof sunscreen of at least SPF 50. Reapply often if you’ll be outdoors for a while.