The dog days of summer are upon us. More daylight is great but brutal heat…not so much. Don’t let extreme temperatures toss you off the fitness wagon. Stay in the game, safely, with these tips.

Stay hydrated
This one is most basic. Performance suffers with even slight dehydration, but that isn’t the only reason to drink up. Water helps you replace fluids lost with sweating. Replacement fluids (water if you exercise less than an hour, sports drinks if you exercise longer) help minimize the risk of heat related illness brought on by dehydration. Don’t wait until you feel dizzy or lightheaded, sip water throughout your workout.

Get the right gear
There is an expression that goes, “cotton is rotten.” Avoid it like the plague in extreme temperatures. Once you begin to sweat you will feel like you’re wearing a heavy, wet towel – gross. Instead, opt for moisture wicking material. These wonder fabrics keep clothes moving freely, instead of peeled to your skin with sweat. They also feel quite breezy so you’ll stay cooler.

Protect yourself
Don’t skip the basics. Apply sunscreen and wear a hat or visor every time you exercise outdoors. Look for sport lotions that stay put even when you sweat heavily. Follow the manufacturer’s advice about reapplication. Lapses in coverage can put you at risk for skin cancer, even if you have dark skin.

Move on the margins
Avoid hitting the pavement during the hottest part of the day. Instead, if you’re a morning person get out there before eight. Evening can work for workouts, too. Have a light dinner and head out after seven. Worried about safety? Gather up the gang, or some neighbors for a night time running/walking club. There is safety in numbers and studies show better adherence when you add a pal. You’ll work out more consistently, get better results and have more fun while you’re at it.

Hit the park

Smiling beautiful sporty young woman working out in park alley, doing stretching exercise, standing in Triangle yoga pose, Trikonasana, full length
Is there a park in your community with lots of trees? If so, head there. The trees can serve as a canopy of sorts to provide a little protection from the hot sun.

Take frequent breaks
Extreme heat makes worker out a bit harder. When the mercury rises give yourself permission to take it a little easier. Turn down the intensity on your regular workout and add in frequent rest breaks or at least periods of lower intensity.

Take a swim
Who says you have to sweat it out in the heat? Swimming is exercise. Head for the pool and get a few laps in. You’ll get your heart rate up and stay cool while you do. You can also move your routine indoors. Sign up for that class you have been meaning to try or hit the treadmill instead of the hiking trail.

More daylight hours and less rigid schedules make summer the perfect time to get active. Don’t let high temps stop you. Use caution, timing and the right gear to work out safely even during the dog days of summer.