By Cody Stewart
Going to the gym is a great way to keep fit, but some people prefer the thrill of exercising outdoors. There are numerous benefits to working out outside. For example, sunlight increases your brain’s serotonin production, helping to regulate your mood and emotions. Additionally, many people feel that exercising outdoors feels less like a workout and more like play.
Still, sun exposure can be dangerous if you don’t stay hydrated and keep your skin safe. If you regularly exercise outside, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with products that offer protection from ultraviolet rays.
In this video
BestReviews’ fitness expert, Judd NeSmith, NASM-CPT, PES, joins Gary Gelfand to share tips on staying safe while being active outside, particularly for the 50 and over population.
What are the dangers of exercising outside during the summer?
The most significant risks are heat and sunlight. Your body needs electrolytes to function, and according to the National Institutes of Health, these minerals are essential for generating and conducting action potentials like producing hormones and moving muscles. You rapidly deplete your body’s electrolytes when you’re physically active in the summer heat because your body releases them when it sweats.
Low electrolyte levels can disrupt essential bodily functions and, in some cases, may be life-threatening. Water contains trace amounts of electrolytes, but it often isn’t enough if you work out in the heat for longer than 45 minutes.
Although sunlight promotes serotonin and vitamin D production, excess exposure can lead to heat exhaustion or other serious conditions. The sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays that may cause skin cancer, and it’s important to protect yourself during periods of prolonged exposure.
How to avoid dehydration
Dehydration is caused by losing more fluid than you consume.You can usually tell when you’re dehydrated, as it may lead to headaches, fatigue, and energy loss.
Increasing water and electrolyte consumption is the only way to combat dehydration. NeSmith says, “anything over 45 minutes in the really hot sun, you’re going to need electrolytes in your water.” While you may be tempted to reach for a sugary sports drink, you may be better off with an electrolyte tablet. These tablets contain the same essential minerals as sports drinks without the unnecessary sugar content.
Sports drinks high in sugar may slow your body’s natural gastric emptying process during exercise, leading to stomach aches and discomfort. Those who don’t like drinking water can still enjoy water mixed with electrolyte tablets, as they often have a range of flavors.
If you’re used to exercising in an air-conditioned gym, the amount of water and electrolytes you usually consume may not cut it when working out in the summer heat. You must pay attention to your body’s signals while engaging in physical activity. When your mouth feels dry, go ahead and drink water.
Your general eating habits may also affect your body’s response to exercising. Even when you aren’t working out, consider drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day can also help you avoid dehydration. However, you may not want to load up on too many fruits before working out because sugars can lead to a stomach ache.
How to stay safe in the sun
When spending time in the sun, you’ll want to ensure you’re wearing the right sunscreen. Choosing a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection is important, as it will protect you from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Choosing a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor of at least SPF 30 will protect you from around 97% of the sun’s rays.
Aside from sunscreen, a few other products can protect you from UV rays. For example, wearing a pair of UV-protection sleeves is an excellent way to protect your arms. According to NeSmith, the sleeves can be worn during most outdoor activities, from mowing the lawn to cycling. These sleeves are often breathable and wick moisture away from your skin.
When choosing a pair of UV-protection sleeves, buying a pair that doesn’t itch or cause discomfort is essential. Buying sleeves from a trusted brand is recommended since knock-off brands may simply claim their sleeves protect your skin from UV rays even though they don’t.
UV-protective skull caps are an excellent choice for cyclists, as they protect the top of your head from the sun’s rays. Additionally, these caps prevent your helmet from chafing your head and help keep sweat out of your eyes.
Shop this segment
These tablets contain the essential electrolytes your body needs to thrive while working out. Each pack includes 40 servings and can be mixed with water to enhance hydration and add flavor to your drink. The tablets are sweetened with Stevia and are keto-friendly.
Sold by Amazon
These sleeves block roughly 98% of the sun’s harmful UV rays and are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Many were impressed by how comfortable these sleeves are in high temperatures. They are machine washable and help wick away sweat as you exercise.
Sold by Amazon
This cap does an excellent job of keeping sweat out of your eyes and protecting your head from the sun’s rays. It fits under most bicycle helmets comfortably.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.