September rocks when it comes to exercising: Extended daylight hours give you more time and energy to be outside where fun, calorie-burning options abound—the track, the pool, even just the backyard. But summer’s scorchers can last well into fall and physical exertion plus sunshine and warm weather put you risk for heat injuries, the most extreme of which can be deadly. The good news is that they are also eminently preventable, which means you can have your workout and enjoy the elements, too, as long as you’re smart about it.
Hydration is key to being safe in the sun, says Marni Wesner, a sports medicine physician in Edmonton. She recommends drinking two cups of water before exercising, and then sipping some every 10 to 15 minutes once you’ve started. Post-workout hydration is important, too. When you kick up your heart rate in high temperatures, you lose a lot of fluids – up to 11 pounds worth – and it all needs to be replaced. The rule is one litre for every kilo, but the easiest way to gauge how hydrated you are is by simply counting your trips to the loo—you should be peeing at least four times a day, and your pee should be pale.
Dress for success
The best way to make it feel cooler: Change what you’re wearing. Loose fitting clothing that wicks moisture—draws if off the skin into the fabric, where it evaporates quickly—is best, because it helps keep the body cool. Look for the same material in hats, which provide some protection from the sun, but can limit heat dissipation if they’re made of heavy material. Sunscreen, of course, is a must, and Bryan Smith, Toronto-area manager at the Running Room, suggests choosing one that’s sweat-resistant and has a protective factor of 30 or higher. He also recommends shades, as squinting can lead to a headache.
Go early – or late
Timing is everything when it comes to exercising in warm-weather. As much as possible, opt for early-morning and late-evening workouts, as these tend to be the coolest times of day and smog levels are the lowest. But when the thermometer won’t quit or it’s a serious smog-warning day, skip your workout or really take a stand, and do it in an air-conditioned gym.