This may have seemed like The Winter That Would Never End, but summer and its accompanying warm weather are on their way. While being able to go for a run or bike ride without donning half of your wardrobe might sound like a dream come true, warm weather brings its own challenges. Do you have what it takes to stay safe and comfortable during warm-weather workouts?

Hydration gear

Nobody wants to run or bike holding a water bottle, but the risk of dehydration is very real. Fortunately, hydration gear provides a solution. Bikers have it easy; all they have to do is pop a bottle into the cage on their bikes. For runners, it’s a bit more challenging. A lot of runners swear by hydration vests. They work a lot like backpacks, with the water being carried on the runner’s back and a bite-activated valve ending right at the mouth for hands-free access. Some of them also have storage for phones, keys, etc. Other runners might prefer hydration belts. Most have room for at least two water bottles, and some carry as many as four.

Warm-weather clothing

In a way, dressing for summer workouts is more complex than dressing for winter workouts. In the winter, you just bundle up. In the summer, you need clothing that helps you stay comfortable and safe in steamy weather. Look for these important features:

  • Wicking/breathability: Sweat is your body’s way of cooling itself. When the sweat evaporates, heat goes with it. But clothing that traps sweat between your clothes and your skin disrupts that process. Look for moisture-wicking clothing that helps sweat evaporate like it’s supposed to, especially if you’re exercising in high humidity.
  • UV protection: Clothing is your first line of defense against the havoc the sun can wreak on your skin. But not all clothing is alike. If you can hold a shirt up to a light and see through gaps in the fabric, you can assume it offers little sun protection. Your best bet is to buy clothing that’s specifically designed to offer sun protection. For the most protection, look for clothes that are rated with a UPF of 50, which means they block all but 1/50 of the sun’s rays.

You’ll find the biggest selection at venues like SportPursuit.com that are dedicated to serious fitness buffs.

Additional protective gear

While clothing is an important part of sun protection, it’s not enough. For one thing, nobody wants to cover up wrist-to-ankles when they’re exercising in hot weather. Plus, clothing does nothing to protect your head (you can get skin cancer on your scalp) or your face. So make sure you have these items to protect the parts of your body that aren’t covered by clothing. Just consider it a regular part of your safety gear.

  •  Sunscreen: According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the sun can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. The CDC recommends wearing sunscreen all the time (even on dreary winter days), but it’s especially important when you’re exercising on warm summer days. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and make sure it’s broad-spectrum, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply it generously; most people don’t use enough.
  •  Sunglasses: Your eyes are just as vulnerable to sun damage as your skin. Make sure you protect them with sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound glasses offer the best protection, because they keep rays from sneaking in from the side.
  • A hat: Your scalp is vulnerable, too, and unless you want to saturate your hair with sunscreen, you need to wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat that also covers your neck offers the best protection, but that may not be practical when exercising. At the very least, wear a ball cap made from a fabric with a tight weave, and make sure you use sunscreen on your ears and the back of your neck.

By the time warm weather rolls around, most exercise buffs are chomping at the bit to be able to exercise outside without shivering. But warm weather has its own hazards. Remembering to stay hydrated, wear wicking/breathable clothing, and protect your skin will help keep you safe and comfortable.

Ann Baird is a former couch potato turned healthy living enthusiast. With a passion for fitness, she enjoys blogging about inspirations and effective ways of staying healthy.