With summer fast approaching, many of us want to be looking and feeling our best once the warm weather rolls around.
You might have spent winter and spring cooped up indoors and want to get out, or you are just wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Our enthusiasm for working out increases with the longer, lighter days and warmer temperatures, but there are some common mistakes we make during exercise in the summer which make our bodies tire quicker and endure less.
Here, we’ve put together 10 of the most common mistakes you can make during your workouts this summer and how to avoid.
Don’t drink water only when you’re thirsty
One of the biggest errors you can make is drinking only when you’re thirsty, as your body is already dehydrated by this point. Dehydration is common with summer heat and during exercise, this can lead to cramps.
As a result, it is important you drink before, during and after a workout whether you feel thirsty or not.
Don’t drink coffee before exercising
Coffee is considered to be a good drink to have before working out due to its caffeine content, which energises you. However, it is a diuretic drink which will increase chances of dehydration during a workout.
It’s better to have a cold smoothie, for example, which will lower your body’s temperature on warmer days, so it will tolerate more heat.
Don’t exercise during midday
The sun is at its highest point of the day between the hours of 10am and 3pm, which means temperatures are at their warmest too.
Avoid working out at these times. It might affect your performance and cause cramps, but it can also lead to sunstroke.
Get your exercises in early in the morning or later at night when it’s cooler.
Don’t wear the wrong clothing
When exercising outdoors, skin tight outfits or odour-reliving polyester blends aren’t the best choice. Instead, defeat the heat with loose fitting, light-coloured clothing.
Try to wear cotton blends so you can enjoy the benefit of post-workout freshness while limiting the moisture absorbed through 100 per cent cotton clothing and the heavy feeling that comes with it.
Breathable synthetics that wick sweat away from the skin and keep you cool are good options to go for.
Don’t skimp on electrolytes
Warmer temperatures mean more sweat, which can mean a big electrolyte loss. If you know you are going to be putting in some serious outdoor workouts you will need to recover with more than just water.
Focus on drinks that replace sodium but skip all the artificial ingredients and added sugars of the most popular sports drinks.
Find something healthier such as coconut water or chocolate, but be sure to check the label for added sugars.
Don’t increase your targets
You might have your personal bests in running or circuit workouts but expect a drop in performance once the temperatures rise, particularly with high-intensity cardio efforts.
Trying to hold yourself to the same standards you set in a cool, air-conditioned gym on a blistering hot day outdoors will only lead you to be disappointed.
Instead, set more realistic personal targets or don’t go into your workouts expecting to beat your best efforts.
Don’t forget to check the weather
If you exercise outdoors during the winter, chances are you keep a close watch on what the weather is doing beforehand. You might be looking for if it’s set to be below freezing, at what time the sun sets or what the wind chill factor is like.
You should be doing the same due diligence with your summer workouts.
Keep your eye on humidity levels and the “feels like” temperature before you venture outdoors, so you can make the right decisions on when and how to exercise that day.
Don’t load up with protein
Protein is often recommended as something that should be part of your pre-workout meals, to keep you full and energised through your session.
However, in warmer weather a protein meal will elevate your body’s temperature and make you feel hotter during a workout.
Save your protein for post-workout meals to aid your recovery.
Don’t skip the sunblock
Even if it looks cloudy outside, the summer sun can still catch you out. UV rays are still there behind the cloud and can leave you feeling uncomfortable if you’re not careful.
When heading outside, use a sweat-proof SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours for moderate exercise, or every 45 to 60 minutes during intense exercise.
Every time you are sunburnt, your skin cancer risk increases. Particularly bad sunburn could double your chances of suffering malignant melanoma, skin cancer's most dangerous form.
Don’t overdo it
You might want to look good for the beach but going flat out during the summer isn’t the best way to achieve that.
Pushing too hard to start with is the easiest way to burn out and halt your fitness journey.
Exercising in the summer makes it easier to shrug off feelings of tiredness, but feeling sluggish or exhausted isn’t something you should ignore.
If you feel faint, dizzy or nauseated stop your workout.