RPM Physiotherapy

Running Hot? How to Exercise Safely in the Summer

And just like that it is summer! Steamy, sweaty, lemonade-sipping, watermelon-munching, patio-sitting, toe-in-lake-dipping, glorious summer. In Canada, where winter reigns mighty, summer is the most coveted of all the seasons. We wait for it, we dream of it, we celebrate it but before long we are left to only remember it. It is natural to want to make the most of the few shorts months when we revel in summer’s warmth. For many of us that means runs, hikes, bike rides, soccer and baseball in the park but enjoying these activities also means being sun and heat smart.

Here are some of my top tips for staying safe while enjoying the summer sun.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!

Drink, drink and drink some more. Drink before you exercise, while you exercise and after you exercise. If you are unsure if you are drinking enough for your activity level, check the colour of your urine. Ideally you want your pee to be almost clear. Water should be your drink of choice but you may choose to use an electrolyte replacement for endurance activities or if you notice your skin is giving off salt as you sweat.

Signs of dehydration include headache, light headed sensations, nausea, confusion, a lack of perspiration and dizziness.


Here is my favourite recipe for an all natural electrolyte replacement drink:

  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Filtered water
  • Raw honey to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon unrefined salt (Himalayan or Sea salt)

Blend together and enjoy post exercise!

Protect your skin.

Never leave home without proper sunscreen. Just don’t do it! EVER! (Yes I am passionate about this one). This doesn’t just mean sunscreen but also appropriate clothing, hat and sunglasses. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It is key in thermoregulation which is crucial in keeping you safe when exercising in the heat. Your sunscreen should be at least 30 SPF, applied repeatedly through the day (especially if you are sweating or swimming) and used on cloudy or overcast days. Studies have shown that spray on sunscreens often don’t cover evenly and traditional lotion is a better choice.

If my rant isn’t convincing enough, check out the award winning Dear 16 Year Old Me  video from the David Cornfield Melanoma Foundation.

Keep your gym membership

Many of us are tempted to ditch the gym for the outdoors when the weather turns warm. Generally this is fine but there are some days that just are not appropriate for outdoor exercise. Use common sense and head indoors to the AC when heat waves hit. This is especially important if you are being active with either children or the elderly who cannot tolerate extreme temperatures.

If you do choose to be active outside, be smart about your location and time of day. Early morning or evening are often cooler with less humidity to battle. Choose areas that offer shade such as a trail or park instead or areas that absorb or reflect heat such as an asphalt road.


Be in style

Dress for success in the heat. This is a case where what you wear really does matter. Pick clothes that are light and breathable while still offering protection from the sun. A light cotton is a great solution in the summer. Layers are also a wise idea if the weather is unpredictable. Choose something that wicks sweat away from your skin so you don’t catch a chill if you overheat or get caught in the rain.

I lean towards lighter colours in the summer. A bright white doesn’t absorb the heat of the sun as much and makes me more visible if a run runs into the evening.


We are so lucky in Canada to have four seasons that let us experience different sports and outdoor games 12 months of the year but hands down there is no time I would rather be outside than the summer. Have a wonderful, safe summer!

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