Essential Summer Workout Gear

Summer is the best time to take your fitness to the next level. But before you head out into the heat and sun, it’s important to make sure you have the proper workout gear. Wearing the right clothing and sneakers will help keep you cool and also reduce your risk of injury. When you’re working out in hot weather, you can lose electrolytes quickly and can become dehydrated, so be sure to keep a water bottle at your side and take sips often. Check out our list of essential summer exercise gear:

  1. Sunglasses. The sun’s powerful rays can damage your eyes if they’re not protected by the right sunglasses, and can make it difficult for you to see moving cars, bikers, skateboarders, runners, and other exercisers. Protect your eyes with a pair of sporty shades. A good pair will reduce your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, cut down on glare, and help protect the sensitive, delicate skin under your eyes from sun damage. Be sure to purchase sunglasses that filter out 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV rays. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, consult with an optician about getting transition glasses, which lighten or darken in the presence of UV rays.


  2. Sunscreen. When you’re outside during the day, you should always wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun — even when it’s overcast. Don’t be fooled if you have darker skin — those who have brown, golden, or olive skin tones also should wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Some experts recommend that people of all skin tones use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. The FDA recently issued new regulations on sunscreen labeling and claims. All sunscreen products must protect equally against UVB and UVA rays, offering “broad spectrum” protection. UVB rays can cause burning of the skin while UVA rays can cause wrinkling and skin cancer. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every few hours, since even waterproof and sweatproof sunscreens wear off.


  3. Hat. Visors, baseball caps, and wide-brim hats do double duty — protecting your eyes from the sun and keeping sweat and hair away from your face. Mesh exercise hats are a good choice because they allow air circulation. Exercise headbands and sweatbands are a good way to keep sweat from becoming a nuisance.


  4. Light clothing. Your workout clothes should provide you with comfort and coverage, while still being lightweight and breathable. Look for clothing made with wicking fabric to keep you cool and dry. Exercise clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) blocks UVA and UVB rays. To earn a UPF label, the clothing must undergo testing for UV protection. Look for that label on the exercisewear you buy.


  5. Lightweight footwear. Walking shoes made with breathable mesh are your best bet. They provide the proper support without adding too much bulk, and can help you avoid foot injuries, such as blisters and shin splints. Be sure to purchase walking sneakers that are flexible, relatively flat, and have what’s known as a semi-curve last (the shape of the outsole) with soft cushioning. If you bike and/or play tennis in addition to walking, buy the appropriate shoe for the activity. Socks made from a synthetic material are best for wicking moisture away from the foot.

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