Summer is here, which means longer days, and hours of sunshine and of course hotter weather! While heat and humidity can make it tougher to get out and walk, the longer days make summer a prime time of year to hit a new, higher step goal. Stay cool, walk at the right time of day and have an indoor walking backup plan and you’ll have no problem getting summer steps.
While you may have to be more creative to keep hitting your step counts, you can beat the heat and keep up with your walking pace with a few simple strategies that will get your steps up in no time.
The early walker gets the steps
Just like the early bird gets the worm, being an early walker will help you achieve your step goal.
Hot weather and the grueling daytime sun make choosing to walk during the hottest times of the day difficult. Who wants to take their lunchtime walk at work, only to come back to the office sweaty and smelling like a gym bag? Not only that, but physical exertion during hot weather can exacerbate other health issues, which defeats the purpose of walking: to get healthier!
Try morning walking
A great way to hit your step goals during the hot summer months is to start a morning walking routine. It’s much cooler earlier in the day before the sun has had a chance to make your pleasant stroll a tough, sweaty slog. Walking in the morning is a great way to wake your body and get the blood flowing. A walk first thing in the morning can clear your mind, helping get your day off to a great start.
Walk in the evening
While almost anyone (even non-morning people) can start a morning walking habit, if you find that morning walks aren’t your thing then try a brisk evening walk. Walking after the sun goes down will be cooler than under the midday sun, which can help make walking easier. Many people feel that an after-dinner walk helps them digest dinner and release endorphins that help you relax before it’s time for bed.
It’s important to remember that evening is often much hotter than the morning, as the sun has had the entire day to warm things up. You may want to wear your hot weather gear with a light jacket that you can remove if you’re too hot. Night walking (and early morning walking) means visibility is low, so make sure to take night-walking safety into account and stay visible while you walk!
You might be saying to yourself, “stay indoors?!” But you can still hit your step count without leaving your house! If you can’t take a walk in the morning or the evening, you can achieve your step goal by jumping on a treadmill. Treadmill walking allows you to change up the speed, incline and other factors any time you want. Most of us don’t have a treadmill at home, but there may be a community center or bare-bones gym near your home that does.
Don’t have access to a treadmill – no problem! There are many great opportunities to walk indoors and get your steps. Malls are traditional summer walking locations, but indoor walking locations like community centers, libraries, and museums are great places to walk and explore. Big box stores with a huge area and wide lanes can also be a great indoor walking location in a pinch. The only limit to where you can walk is your creativity!
Remember that some indoor locations may fire up the air conditioning to the maximum, so you may want to take a light jacket or long-sleeve shirt for when you’re walking indoors. Going from hot to cold to hot can stress your system a bit, so be careful about walking when sweaty in cold environments.
The walking gear to keep your walks in gear
Some people don’t like walking indoors and find that it’s hard to stay motivated. Getting outside and experiencing the scenery of a brisk outdoors walk can make you feel great!. If you find that you need to be in the great outdoors to get your steps in, but you want to avoid the heat while you march to the beat, the right walking gear can make a big difference.
There’s a wide variety of lightweight clothing that can keep you cool when walking in the heat. Hot-weather gear is designed to wick sweat away from your body while allowing air to circulate and cool you down. It should also be lightweight, even when you sweat. Running and hiking clothes can work just as well as walking gear in many cases, so check out a variety of styles and fabrics until you find what works for you.
Be sure to wear a hat or visor to keep the sun off your face and liberally apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn doesn’t feel great, but sun damage can lead to skin cancer, and is just generally bad for the skin. When in doubt, be sun safe!
Make sure to drink plenty of water as well. Try looking for a reusable water bottle to save money (and plastic bottles). There are a variety of water systems for runners that you can use just as well walking – from bottles that attach to your hand to backpacks with a straw that winds its way from the back to your mouth. There’s guaranteed to be something that fits your needs and budget.
In addition to wearing clothing that protects you from the sun’s rays, when the sun is blazing down it’s good to find a walking a route with plenty of shade. Walking a path with lots of shady trees will also keep the temperature down while you are hitting the ground and maintaining your fitness goals. If you can’t find a park, a location with tall buildings can also effectively block the sun.
Try to plan out some shady spots where you can take a break if you’re tired, or just to stop and enjoy the surroundings. You can also take a quick pit stop in your favorite coffee shop or cafe. Just keep any snacks small and light so you don’t feel too full to walk. You’re also probably looking to burn calories on your walk, so a 600-calorie coffee milkshake would defeat the whole purpose of your walk! Swap the coffee drink with water (or a zero-cal black coffee) instead.
Make sure to drink plenty of water when walking in the summer heat. In most cases, plain water is just fine for all of the hydration you need. If you’re walking for very long periods or getting very intense, you can try sports drinks. Often, you can dilute sports drinks with half or three-quarters water to get a bit of electrolytes while reducing their calories.
Make sure to hydrate both before and during your walks. It takes your body a bit of time to absorb the water, and if you wait until you’re feeling parched you may already be slightly dehydrated.
Walking is a fun way to keep fit, but it can be harder when the weather is hot. Luckily, the warm weather doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch until fall. With a little creativity, you will be up and at it, taking those steps for a healthier you. Make sure to stay safe, stay cool and pace yourself and you’ll be walking all summer long!
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