While sunny, long days are a big part of what makes summer so magical, they’re also part of the reason many people fall of the exercise train in the summer. Avoiding the fitness summer slump requires acknowledging three critical factors that influence your workouts.
Depending on where you live, the intensity of the sun and heat (and humidity) may alter your summer workout options. Even if you are well acclimated, pushing yourself outdoors in hot, sunny weather day after day isn’t smart.
The summer sun has the potential to wreak havoc on your workouts in three major ways:
- Dehydration– extra heat from the direct summer sun means you sweat more than normal. Staying on top of your hydration is critical to ensure your workout doesn’t take a quick turn for the worse.
- Increased heart rate and respiration– extra hot and humid days mean your body works harder even during its normal activities. You’re going to breathe more rapidly (and likely more shallowly), and your heart is going to pump faster, too. Knowing your normal heart rate range and staying within it is advisable.
- Skin safety– while you may be able to get away with exercising outdoors without sunscreen in other times of the year, please don’t try it in the summer! The directness and intensity of the summer sun’s rays are damaging to your skin. Find a sunscreen that is sweatproof, and use it regularly.
The glorious extended daylight of summer seems like such a gift. Unfortunately, we can be seduced by the long stretches of daytime to do two things that upset our workout habits.
First, we can stay up way too late. Without the cue of darkness, it is easy to stay up later than intended. Loss of sleep affects almost all systems in our bodies. If you’ve ever tried to convince yourself to exercise when you’re tired, you know how unsuccessful that internal conversation usually is.
Also, long days trick us into thinking that we have plenty of time to exercise, so we’ll just “do it later.” And then the hours slip away, no exercise happens, we stay up too late, and then it’s the next day and we’re too tired to move. As with any other season, scheduling your workouts and sticking to it is the best way to ensure you’ll actually get your workout done.
Lack of Schedule
Even if you’re not in school yourself, if you have kids your life revolves around the school calendar. With the disruption of routine, we need to rethink when and how we can exercise.
For some, this may mean your favorite group class is no longer compatible with your summer schedule. For others it may mean that your usual cycle buddies are out of town on vacation so you need a new option. Whatever reason it is that has your schedule has been turned upside down, acknowledge that it’s a temporary situation and use this time as an opportunity to try something different.
Perhaps you’re going on vacation this summer. (Lucky you!) While it’s fun to let loose for a few days, consider how much work you’ve already put into your regular fitness program. Don’t let a vacation take you all the way back to the beginning!
A lack of strict schedule, like the long days of summer, may also trick us into thinking we have plenty of time to exercise. But that “do it later” attitude sets us up for failure.
The Sun + Long Days + Lack of Schedule = Fitness Summer Slump
While the thought of lazy days of summer seems appealing, to those of us who crave regular exercise it is downright upsetting. We need fitness in our summer schedule. We want fitness in our summer schedule. And with thoughtful reflection and planning, we’ll have fitness in our summer schedule.