It’s pretty tempting when that temperature tilts past 90 degrees to opt for air-conditioned spaces. But if you’re trying to stay in shape and gyms aren’t for you, it’s still possible to get out and walk, or even run, in the heat.
Health experts would advise fitting that run into the early morning hours, or right before dusk. And common sense, along with medical pros’ recommendations, can’t stress hydrating enough. But if it’s steamy even then, the secret to ensure you’re protected from the heat is to wear the right clothing.
Amanda Charles, district manager for the Boulder Running Company (www.boulderrunningcompany.com), says even in a fitness mecca like Boulder, Colo., many use heat as an excuse to give up on their fitness regimen.
“Summertime might be when people languish because of the heat, but you can really make an impact with apparel,” says Charles, adding that the store, which has four locations in Colorado, carries a wide selection of clothing that moves moisture away from the body.
“Avoid cotton,” she says. “It’s wonderfully absorbent, but it doesn’t move moisture away from your body, so as your run progresses you have a sweaty rag clinging to you.”
Look for polyester blends and “technical” fabrics, which feature a high UPF rating, meaning they protect against the harmful rays of the sun. Even merino wool wicks moisture away from the body, and although “wool” and “summer” don’t sound like a good blend, Charles says the material works well on all but the hottest days.
Pam Kimball with REI says she’s also seeing a trend toward lighter-weight fabrics that wick moisture.
“Many of our running brands also incorporate mesh panels to enhance ventilation,” Kimball says, adding that accessories like Mission Cooling Towels and Sleeves sell well.
For the fashionable hiker or runner, Charles says both skorts and capris have been popular.
“You can head from the coffee shop to the trail head in these,” she says. “You can bike, hike or run in them, and still have that feminine look.”
While skorts sell well, it’s capris that have been flying off the shelves, Charles says.
“They’re the strongest trend, both printed and in colors,” she says. “Some of them are comfortable enough to work out with, but fashionable enough to wear as an everyday outfit.”
For those wary of sun damage, Charles notes that many brands report the UPF rating of the clothing on labels.
“The tighter the weave, the greater the rating,” she says.
Finally, for those who might rise early in the morning to run, or wait until the light is fading, Mary Rose MacKinnon, spokeswoman for L.L.Bean, has one last bit of advice.
“Bright colors and reflective detailing keep you highly visible and safe while running on roadways,” she says, adding that the company has a wide selection of brightly colored, lightweight workout clothes that provide great moisture control.
We’ve checked out a few of the coolest clothes out there for those who are ready to stop using heat as an excuse to vegetate.
• REI Fleet Skort ($33.93-$49.50, www.rei.com). Hike, run, play tennis, or jump into just about any activity in this sleek, pretty skort, which features performance fabrics that will keep you cool. The skort also boasts a UPF 50 sun protection.
• L.L.Bean Powerflow Capri ($49.95, www.llbean.com). These pants wick moisture to keep you comfortable, and flatlock seams eliminate chafing.
• REI Fleet T-Shirt ($19.93-$29.50, www.rei.com). This shirt stretches comfortably and is made of a fabric that breathes easily, which makes it a perfect pick for runners.
• L.L.Bean AeroFit Tank ($24.95, www.llbean.com). Fast-drying synthetic fabrics and mesh inserts at the sides increase the cooling factor. The pros at Bean have figured out that this tank, with reflective details on the front and back, dries in only 15 minutes.
• New Ascend Trek Plaid Button-Up Shirt for Ladies ($45, www.basspro.com). This lightweight plaid shirt is perfect for a hike. It features a snap front, pockets and roll-up sleeves that secure with tabs, for when you begin to warm up.
• REI Fleet Capri Pants ($49.50, www.rei.com). These stylish capris will take you to the gym, or out on a running trail, in comfort.