7 Musts for Walking in Summer Heat + Warning Signs to Watch For

Hot summer weather is still very walkable, but you’ll need to stay cool, drink more water, avoid dangerous overheating to maximize your steps and stay safe. If you’re an outdoor walker, you may find yourself taking fewer, shorter walks due to the hot weather. Don’t let hot weather get you (and your step count) down! While warmer weather does add challenges to walking or jogging outside, it can be done safely.

Wear the right clothes, find a cool walking route, and drink plenty of water and you’ll be able to get your steps even when the weather heats up!

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1) Exercise during the cooler parts of the day:

Female walker holding thermometer - hot weather concept
Thaninee Chuensomchit / Shutterstock

As we move from cooler spring temperatures to blazing summer heat, look to walk in cooler times of days. Temperatures are generally cooler in the morning, rise in the afternoon, then cool off again toward evening. Take advantage of the times of the day when it’s not as hot to get your walk or run in. Wake up early and get in a good morning walk or walk later at night when the heat dissipates. Try to find a walking time that you can build into a daily habit, which will make it easier to wake up earlier or be energetic later at night.

2) Change what you wear:

Bright colorful hot weather walking or running gear
Angela Aladro mella / Shutterstock

When it’s warmer, you’ll want to wear lighter clothing—and maybe less of it. Shorts versus leggings, for example, and perhaps a sleeveless top. Lighter colored clothing is also better for warmer days.

Make sure what you’re wearing is made of breathable material. If it wicks moisture away from your skin, that’s even better. It will help you feel cooler. A hat will keep the sun off your head, face, and neck.

Consider using cooling towels. These nifty little items can be worn while in the heat walking, running, and exercising. And, they can be a fashion statement! For more information, check out this link rating these items.

3) Drink more liquids:

Drinking water when walking in heat
AJR_photo / Shutterstock

Experts recommend drinking four to eight ounces of water or another non-caffeinated beverage about every 15 minutes when exercising outside during warmer months. Sweating during hot weather causes water loss, so make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. It’s important to drink water all day, not just during your workout. Once you start to get dehydrated, it can take a long time to return to full hydration.

Drinking water can also help you feel more full. By swapping out high-calorie drinks like soda with zero-calorie water, you’ll cut calories, feel better and be more hydrated when you do take your walks.

4) Walk in the Shade!

Beautiful green shaded park walking path
D Guest Smith / Shutterstock

Try walking along shady trails in wooded areas or near the water where there’s a breeze. Avoiding direct sunlight can help you stay cooler If it’s really hot, it may be best to get your steps indoors. An indoor walking track or a treadmill is great, or get creative and do your indoor walking in a mall or large store. While it can be great to get your steps in a natural, outdoor setting, when it gets too hot you should get your steps any way that you can.

5) Slow down or shorten workouts:

To avoid overheating, it’s OK to slow down your pace or even take a break. You can also shorten your walks or split them up into a few different sessions. If you can find 5-10 minutes during a break at work or a less busy time to take a short walk, you can go a long way towards hitting your step goals and keeping cool

6) Gradually build up your workouts:

When the temperatures heat up, you may have to ease into the heat. Start with shorter walks and gradually work your way up to longer walks or jogs to allow your body time to acclimate to the change in the weather.

7) When in doubt, walk inside:

Shopping mall drawing
Artisticco / Shutterstock

Indoor walking is just as good of a workout as outdoor walking. Consider taking a walk in a mall or hitting the indoor track at the health club. If you have access to a treadmill, you can use it to get steps in an air-conditioned environment. You can also do an in-home cardio routine to get your steps from your (hopefully) cool home. The U.S. Department of Human Services notes that Mall Walking is “second only to walking in neighborhoods in popularity”. And, the “Go4Life” campaign from the National Institute on Health provides good information about mall walking and adding it to your Pacer Pedometer workouts. Here is a link for more information about mall walking. https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/tip-sheets/mall-walking

Warning signs of dangerous heat illness:

Man doubled over exhausted from exercise in heat
Peerayot / Shutterstock

How can you tell if you become overheated? Nausea, cramping or a headache can be the first sign of heat exhaustion. Sweating heavily can also signal that your body is overheating. If you start to feel weak or dizzy, you’re entering dangerous territory. Make sure to slow down, find a shady place and sit down if possible. Don’t try to push through the warning signs – you’ll risk serious injury! Exerting yourself too much, especially during hot weather, can cause you to pass out or risk serious injury.

In extreme cases, lack of sweating can be a major red flag of heat injury. If you’ve been exercising in the heat and your skin starts to become dry, you may be suffering from serious heat exhaustion. Heatstroke, one of the most serious heat-related conditions, can cause confusion and other symptoms. Severe heatstroke can lead to coma and worse. If you feel unwell, confused, dizzy or suddenly notice your skin has gone dry – stop exercising and rest immediately! Your health is more important than getting a few more steps in.

What to do if you’ve overexerted yourself in the heat:

Woman tired after a long walk or jog
MinDof / Shutterstock
  • Get out of the sun: Get to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Direct sunlight can cause a 15-degree rise in temperature.
  • Elevate the legs: Blood flow can be affected when the body is overheating. Elevating the feet about 12 inches reduces swelling in the legs. It also helps improve blood flow to the brain.
  • Drink cold water: Drink cold water, or pour it on your skin. Besides your head, pouring water on your groin or armpits can help to cool down the body if you’re concerned you’re dangerously hot.
  • Get in front of a fan: This can also help cool down the body. Loosen clothing to help improve the airflow and further cool the skin.
  • Get inside: If you can find an indoor area with air conditioning, this can help cool down your body. Just be careful you don’t go from super hot to extremely cold too quickly, as this can cause other issues.
  • Seek medical attention: If you start to experience dizziness, confusion or serious heat-related symptoms, get to a doctor or hospital or call 911. Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention, especially for older people or those who have health conditions like heart disease.

Don’t let warmer weather stop you from getting your steps! Following these tips can help you exercise safely. No matter where you walk or run, track your steps and log your success with your Pacer Pedometer App!

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