It’s summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, which means the chance to spend more time outside. But for many people, especially those who are sensitive to the heat or too much sun, summer weather can pose a challenge when trying to meet their daily steps goal. Here, we’re looking at the different ways you can sneakily boost your steps without risking heatstroke or sunburn.
As more places begin to re-open, look at what’s available around you for indoor areas where walking is easy. Of course, there’s always the treadmill at the gym, but this could also include walking around an indoor mall or indoor track. If you have kids in after-school activities, like dance or hockey, consider walking around in those buildings during their practices. You don’t need a formal walking track to increase your step count. Even if you feel self-conscious at first walking around the auditorium while your child is in ballet, that could be the only chance you have to get your steps in, so it’s worth it. You might even encourage other parents to join you!
A parking garage can be a great way to boost step counts if you park as far away from the entrance as possible. Take the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator, and — while carefully watching for cars — consider walking a lap or two of the parking garage, provided it’s cool and shady.
You’ll definitely want to skip the peak sun exposure hours outside, so it’s best to opt for an early morning walk with a friend or an evening walk with your spouse or kids. It might be a bit different from your normal routine and it may take some getting used to, but it’s worth it if you can get some great sunrise or sunset views while walking in slightly less scorching conditions.
Many climates where it’s too hot to walk outside during the day are almost always sunny, but some spots might be more bearable when it’s raining. Look for days that have rain and cloud coverage, and do longer walks on those days rather than the mostly sunny days. Hourly forecasts can help you avoid the downpours, while getting out in a light rain could even be a refreshing break from the heat! Just be sure to watch for thunderstorms and take shelter immediately if you see lightning.
You may not want to do an hour-long walk in the heat, but can you handle five minutes? If so, start going back to the oft-cited fitness tip of parking farther from your destination, adding more steps on these shorter jaunts outside. When done in short spurts, you avoid the issues of heat stroke or sickness, but you’ll still get some sunshine and time in fresh air while adding to your step count.
While hitting your step count is great, it’s not the only activity you can be doing. If you’re missing your lunchtime walk, consider substituting it with a lunchtime yoga session. A bike ride might be cooler than walking, since you’ll take advantage of the breeze. And, obviously, swimming is always going to be an easy way to cool off, whether you’re at a public pool or in a lake or ocean. Water running is another great way to actually keep up with your step count!
If you’re really committed to walking indoors but have no space for a treadmill, an inexpensive alternative is a small stepper that can be stashed underneath a counter or standing desk. In a pinch, you can rack up steps using that while working or chatting on the phone. (This writer/runner loves using the stepper during conference calls or meetings that should be emails!)
Remember: Every little bit counts! Start looking at step counts as a way to hit your targets: 25 steps here or 50 steps there starts to add up. Going to refill your coffee mug at the office? Consider going to the coffee machine on the next floor up or the other side of the office. The same applies at home: Do an extra circuit around the living room while picking things up, pace while talking on the phone. And, when outside, get in on playtime if you have kids who also need to move around in the hot weather. For an added bit of youthful fun, walk through the sprinklers and rack up steps while also staying cool.
To become more active, try setting a simple goal to increase (and track) your daily steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app and choose a 28-day step plan to learn tips to boost your activity.