How to Safely Exercise in Warm Weather While Staying Adequately Hydrated and Nourished

By:  Mer Temple Allen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

As Spring quarter gets into action, spending time outdoors is a great way to get sunshine while being active. It is also great for those who do not enjoy working out at the gym or prefer to be outdoors. This can include walking or running through the UC Davis arboretum, the Davis Putah Creek trail or Olive Tree Lane. The UC Davis quad and UC Davis Hutchison Intramural field are also great places to use for outdoor exercise or to play sports with friends.

That being said, there are a few key points to remember while exercising outdoors when it comes to weather, hydration, and adequate nourishment before, during, and after your workout.

1. Time of day

Be cautious about what time of day to avoid working out when it is too hot. Exercising outdoors when over 90 degrees Fahrenheit can be dangerous, so wait until it cools down. On warmer days, find time in the morning or early evening to avoid excessive heat!

2. Hydration

When working out on warmer days, staying adequately hydrated is essential! Drink 8 ounces (1 cup) of water every 15-20 minutes during the workout. Be careful about drinking large amounts less frequently, as this can cause you to feel full and make exercising uncomfortable. Water is the best source of hydration during exercises that last one hour or less. Energy drinks can be helpful for those who plan to work out for over an hour at a high intensity. This is because working out for long periods causes excessive sweating, which can dehydrate the body causing loss of electrolytes. Energy drinks add calories for eEnergy and nutrients such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, replenishing the body’s electrolytes.

3. What to eat before a workout

Eating before a workout will give you adequate energy throughout your workout. It is best to consume a full meal about three hours before a workout and a small carbohydrate-heavy snack about thirty minutes beforehand. Some ideas for snacks could be oats, a protein shake, fresh fruit, a banana, or an energy bar!

4. Maintaining energy during a workout

For those who plan on working out for an hour or less, consuming food for energy alongside the workout is unnecessary. However, eating food throughout the training is recommended for those who plan to work out at higher intensity for over an hour. Eating in small amounts (about 50-100 calories) every half hour is best to avoid cramping from eating too much. Focus on consuming carbohydrate-heavy foods or drinks, such as an energy bar, a fruit smoothie, or a banana, are good options. 

5. What to eat after a workout

After your workout and to help your muscles recover, eat a meal containing carbohydrates and protein no more than one hour after your workout. This meal should be slightly more carbohydrate-heavy as this will help replenish the energy lost during exercise! For example, mixing whole grains with meat or tofu or eating an egg on toast could be great options. These are just a few ideas, but any meal that combines carbohydrates and protein will work well for replenishing energy and for muscle repair.

Lastly, make sure to wear sunscreen when exercising outside to avoid getting sunburnt! And make sure to spend time outdoors as the weather gets warmer to boost your mood and get more vitamin D.

Whatever you do, have fun and stay safe!

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