Primary Blog/Fitness/Summer Exercise Tips

Summer is here, and it's a fantastic time to get outside and stay active. However, exercising in the heat requires extra care, especially when it comes to warm-ups, stretching, and hydration. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you stay safe and get the most out of your summer workouts.

Importance of Warm-Ups and Stretching

Warm-Ups: Before diving into any physical activity, it's crucial to prepare your body with a proper warm-up. Warm-ups increase blood flow to the muscles, enhance flexibility, and reduce the risk of injuries. A good warm-up might include light jogging, dynamic stretches, or activities that mimic the main exercise you'll be doing.

  • Light Jogging: A 5-10 minute jog gradually increases your heart rate and circulation, preparing your muscles for more intense activity.
  • Dynamic Stretches: Incorporate movements like leg swings, arm circles, and high knees to activate your muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Exercise-Specific Movements: If you're planning to run, start with a brisk walk. If you're lifting weights, do a few sets with lighter weights.

The Dangerous Mistake You Might Be Making...

In the winter, when we are stiffer and the weather is colder, it's easy to remember to stretch more and warm up thoroughly. You feel the need to get moving because your body is cold. However, in the summer, many people skip their warm-ups, thinking that the heat has already warmed their muscles. This is a mistake because, internally, your muscles need to reach 106 degrees to gain optimal flexibility. So, if you're jumping straight into a workout or run without a proper warm-up, your body isn't fully primed, increasing the risk of injuries.

Stretching: Stretching is equally important, especially in the summer when it's easy to skip this step because the heat can make you feel more flexible. Remember, your muscles need to be at an optimal temperature to perform efficiently. Aim to stretch all major muscle groups, holding each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds.

  • Static Stretches: Focus on holding stretches that target your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, shoulders, and back.
  • Post-Workout Stretching: After your workout, stretch to help your muscles recover and maintain flexibility. Hold each stretch for longer, around 30-60 seconds.
  • Yoga: Incorporate yoga poses like downward dog, child's pose, and cobra to enhance flexibility and relieve muscle tension.

Stretching after your workout is vital. It is so important to take five to ten minutes to stretch after any physical activity. Many people skip this, thinking they'll stretch when they get home. However, once you get home, it's easy to get caught up with other tasks like hopping in the shower, going to work, or taking care of the kids. So, make it a habit to stay for five minutes and stretch after your workout. This small step can make a significant difference in your long-term health and prevent injuries.

Tips for Exercising in the Heat 

Hydration: Staying hydrated is critical. Start your day with a glass of water and continue to hydrate throughout the day. Don't wait until you're thirsty; by then, you might already be dehydrated. Consider incorporating electrolyte supplements to replenish lost minerals, especially during intense workouts. Products like hydration powders can be a convenient way to maintain electrolyte balance​​​​.

  • Morning Hydration: Drink 8-16 ounces of water first thing in the morning to kickstart your hydration.
  • During Exercise: Sip water every 15-20 minutes during exercise. For intense workouts lasting more than an hour, consider an electrolyte drink.
  • Post-Exercise: Replenish lost fluids with water or an electrolyte beverage within 30 minutes after your workout.

Appropriate Clothing: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to help keep your body cool. Materials that wick away sweat can also keep you more comfortable by drawing moisture away from your skin. Long sleeves might seem counterintuitive, but they can actually protect you from the sun and help maintain a cooler body temperature​​.

  • Breathable Fabrics: Choose fabrics like cotton, linen, or moisture-wicking synthetic blends.
  • Sun Protection: Wear a hat and UV-protection sunglasses. Use sunscreen on exposed skin to prevent sunburn.
  • Footwear: Ensure your shoes are suitable for the terrain and provide good ventilation.

Timing: Plan your workouts for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Avoid exercising during peak sun hours to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • Early Morning: The temperature is typically cooler, and air quality is better.
  • Late Evening: Another cooler option, with the added benefit of helping you unwind after a day.
  • Indoor Options: If the heat is too intense, consider indoor activities like gym workouts, swimming, or fitness classes.

Exercising in the summer can be enjoyable and beneficial if done safely. By incorporating proper warm-ups, stretching, and hydration into your routine, you can stay fit and healthy all summer long. Remember, the goal is to have fun and enjoy the beautiful weather while taking care of your body.

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