Now that we’ve officially moved into summer, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will be dealing with heat in the coming months. And since temperatures seem to be on the rise around the world, walkers need to get creative in beating the heat.
Here are some suggestions to help you keep cool on your summer walks:
Walk Early or Late
Avoid the heat of the day by completing your walks before 10AM or beginning them after 6PM. If you enjoy walking in the dark, walking at night a great way to stay cool. Use a weather app to plan the best time to walk to maximize your enjoyment.
Choose Shady Areas
If you can find a place to walk where there are lots of trees, your walk will feel cooler. Being in the direct sunlight can make the temperature feel up to fifteen degrees hotter. So look for local parks with trails among the trees. You can use an online mapping app to find shadier routes.
Make Your Own Shade
Choose clothing and hats that are light-colored and rated to shield you from ultraviolet rays.
Let Your Skin Breathe
Sweat evaporates more easily when your arms and legs are bare. So slather on that sunscreen and let your sweat act as the body’s air conditioning. Or wear loose lightweight clothing if the sun is just too hot. Whatever you wear, be sure it wicks away moisture.
Drink Cold Water
Drink water a few hours before you walk. Then freeze a half-full water bottle, and top it off before you head out. Sip regularly — six to eight ounces of water every fifteen minutes. If you’re worried about dehydration, try adding electrolytes to your water. And be sure to drink lots upon your return, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Water is your personal air-conditioning and you need to have plenty of fluids in your system.
Water Isn’t Just for Drinking
Wet a shirt or bandana or hat before you head out for your walk and you’ll have instant air conditioning. You can even freeze bandanas, wear cooling bandanas, or put ice cubes in your hat.
Cover Your Head
Wear a breathable hat. The sun feels less hot if your head is covered.
Always try to wear lightweight, ventilated walking shoes and socks that wick away sweat. These are go-to summer gear. Mesh is cooler than leather and dries faster when your feet sweat. Or you might even consider wearing a walking sandal. If you’re walking long distances, perhaps get an extra pair of shoes and alternate between them every day so that each pair has a chance to dry out completely. This helps you avoid fungi, blisters–and smelly feet.
Be aware of areas where skin rubs against skin–between your toes, thighs, and under your arms–and apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or use Runner’s Lube, a nonstaining cream made from lanolin, zinc oxide, and benzocaine. It can be found in many sporting goods stores.
On blisteringly hot days, see if you can find some indoor places to walk. Our Beth Brooks, based out of Austin — where it’s over 100 for months on end, walks in Home Depot to stay cool. Shopping malls are another good place to get in those steps (as they begin to reopen). And most importantly, remember not to push yourself to go outside if it’s just too hot.
Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you when you can go for more, and when it’s time to take it easy. If you need to stop walking — drink plenty of cool fluids, and rest. Lower the intensity of your walking workout so your body generates less internal heat. Slow down, especially when going uphill. Don’t push it — and stop when you need to. . .or go on slower, shorter walks at cooler times.
If you feel like you’re overheating, do this:
- Get out of the sun: Get to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
- Elevate your legs: Blood flow can be affected when the body is overheating. Elevating the feet about twelve inches reduces swelling in the legs. It also helps improve blood flow to the brain.
- Drink cold water: Drink cold water, or pour it on your skin. Besides your head, pouring water on your groin or armpits can help to cool down the body if you’re concerned you’re dangerously hot.
- Get in front of a fan: This can also help cool down the body. Loosen clothing to help improve the airflow and further cool the skin.
- Get inside: If you can find an indoor area with air conditioning, this can help cool down your body. Just be careful you don’t go from super hot to extremely cold too quickly, as this can cause other issues.
Summer can be the most glorious time of the year to get out and enjoy walking — if you create the optimal walking routine using these helpful tips!