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No surprises here: Exercising outdoors in hot weather puts additional stress on your body, making it more difficult for you to keep yourself cool. This means you need to pay extra attention to signs that you may be putting yourself at risk of heat exhaustion if you choose to take your workouts outdoors during summer.
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Symptoms of heat exhaustion occur when your body’s temperature climbs from its usual 98.6 degrees to between 101 and 104 degrees, which can make you feel dizzy, weak and even cause you to collapse. It’s important to pay attention to sensations such as sudden headache, cramps, lightheadedness and excessive thirst and sweating, to keep it from escalating to heatstroke, a more serious illness that can lead to death if your body’s basic processes stop working. These nine products are meant to help you prevent heat exhaustion as you sweat it out.
1. For wiping away grime: Tough Outfitters Cooling Towel
The first thing you probably reach for when you return from a hot, sweaty outdoor workout? Aside from a drink of water, we’re willing to bet it’s a towel to wipe sweat off your face and body. To get a head start on that before you get home, allow us to suggest a cooling towel instead of your standard towel, like the Tough Outfitters Cooling Towel.
While we’ve tested many styles and discovered no towel will deliver a miracle cooling effect, the waffle-like texture of the polyester fabric is absorbent and quick-drying. It also folds up into a palm-sized square, making it a good choice for runners and hikers who need a versatile towel in a compact package.
2. For shielding yourself from the sun’s rays: Hawaiian Tropic’s Mineral Sun Milk
Two annoyances about sunscreen during workouts: Some formulas run into your eyes and can make vision a literal pain; others leave behind a white film that can make you look ghostly or stain your clothes. But the worst thing is not wearing any at all.
Our current top pick for body sunscreen is Hawaiian Tropic’s Mineral Sun Milk Body Lotion: Made with zinc oxide and ingredients like coconut and kukui nut, it has a coconut vanilla scent that isn’t overwhelming to give your workout an island vibe. Our beauty writer Sara Miranda tested it in the summer sunshine and praised its consistency as more lotion-like than typical mineral sunscreens—which have a tendency to feel chalky and paste-like on the skin—as well as its lightweight texture, which allows for easy blending, sans rubbing.
3. For portable hydration: Camelbak Circuit Vest
At any time of year, you should take care to hydrate before and after your workout. But during summer’s heat, carrying some water with you is essential, as you will no doubt sweat heavily. Humid summer workouts also push your body’s core temperature even higher, as sweat doesn’t evaporate as readily from your skin.
While you might think that handheld water bottles are the most convenient option, they’re not the healthiest: Carrying one will affect your arm swing and overall form as you walk or run, which can throw off your gait and lead to injury in the shoulder of the arm you’re holding it. For an easier way to tote water as you pound the pavement or trails, consider donning a hydration vest.
Amazon reviewers love the Camelbak Circuit Vest, giving it an average of 4.5 stars from nearly 700 reviews. It comes equipped with zippered pockets where you can stash your smartphone, food, energy gels or other essentials. The included water reservoir can be filled with 1.5 liters of water that you can sip via a drinking tube, perfect for keeping yourself hydrated without breaking your stride.
4. To BYO shade: Builtcool’s breathable baseball cap
To shield your eyes from the sun’s glare, it pays to wear a breathable cap to protect your scalp from sunburn. Builtcool’s mesh cooling baseball cap is versatile enough to be worn during golf, tennis and hiking, yet stylish enough to replace your fabric cap during the warmer months. Reviewers recommend saturating it in cold water when you feel your body overheating for instant relief—which you could even do before you leave the house for keeping a cool head from the get-go.
5. To generate a breeze when there is none: Jisulife’s bladeless exercise fan
Sometimes all it takes to get you through an extra mile or two or one last set is a light breeze to cool you down. On super-calm days, bringing along Jisulife’s hands-free bladeless fan is a sleek way to generate a quiet stream of air for more than 8 hours per charge. It’s discreet enough that it could double as a pair of headphones or a small neck towel. Though many reviewers rave about this fan for saving them in situations like traffic jams without air conditioning and during hot flashes in menopause, they also say it feels weightless enough to be worn during light physical activity.
6. To keep sweat from dripping into your eyes: Ergodyne’s Chill-Its cooling bandana
If wearing a towel around your neck seems bulky or excessive, a stylish cooling bandana is a sleek alternative that can be stashed in a pocket or under the brim of your favorite cap. Ergodyne’s Chill-Its cooling bandanas are packed with gel polymer crystals that soak up liquid when submerged in a bath of ice cold water before heading outdoors, which is slowly released via evaporative cooling to deliver up to four hours of relief. Users rave about the various patterns and versatility of the bandanas—sold individually or in six packs—which can be worn at work or during a range of athletic activities.
7. To prevent swampiness: Gaiam Reef Waters Mesh Shorts
Denim cutoffs might be a summer staple, but they’re not exactly chafe- and sweatproof when you want to take a hike in the hot summer sun. That’s why a pair of light, breathable mesh shorts should be an essential part of your warm-weather wardrobe.
Reviewers love Gaiam’s Reef Waters Elastic Waistband Mesh Shorts for their comfort and versatility—they’re sporty enough for running but don’t scream “gym gear” if you wear them for lounging. Plus, the modest cut and range of colors are a nice compliment to your existing wardrobe, and the elastic waistband moves with you for all-day comfort.
8. For breathable comfort at the gym and beyond: All In Motion’s Longline Cropped Tank Bra
It’s not always feasible to carry a change of clothes when you want to fit in a quick workout before you get on with your day, and wearing a high-impact sports bra in the summer isn’t exactly comfortable.
Reviewers love All In Motion’s Longline Cropped Tank Bra for low-impact workouts such as yoga or weight training, and the marble print is stylish enough to double as a cute tank if you don’t have time to change post-workout.
9. For slip-free footing across all terrains: Earth Origins Adjustable Fisherman Sport Sandals
If a beach or lakeside vacation is in the cards for you this summer, you’ll want a pair of shoes that protects your feet but keeps them cool, too—especially if you’ll be on a boat. Earth Origins’ Adjustable Fisherman Sport Sandals are cute enough to double as your favorite pair of sneakers, but are designed to be worn sans socks, a bonus if you’re someone who finds excess fabric uncomfortable when temps begin to climb. The bungee-style adjustable laces mean you never have to worry about retying them, and the sole provides traction to help you avoid slipping on deck and dry land alike.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.