As an avid, all year round runner, there’s no better feeling than a run in the sun or jogging in Summer.
The warmth. The longer days. Vitamin D. An abundance of color and light.
Every stride feels invigorating. A time of health and vitality. It’s a joy to get out there. Running is fun again.
In this article, I will share some insights into the benefits of running in the sun, what I love about it personally, as well as tips to make the most of it and, above all, staying hydrated when exercising in hot weather.
15 Benefits of Running in the Sun and Jogging in Summer
#1: Vitamin D Production
One of the main benefits of running in the sun is the natural production of vitamin D. When I run outdoors on a sunny day, my skin is exposed to sunlight, which triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. This essential nutrient helps in strengthening my bones, boosting my immune system, and even reducing inflammation. Moreover, adequate vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
#2: Motivation is Ripe
If you’re anything like me, your motivation to run evaporates in crappy weather.
Summer exercise cuts the odds of getting caught in heavy rainfall and putting off the miles ahead of you.
I literally jump out of bed when the sun is peeking through the curtains and can’t wait to get out there.
Compare that to fair weather runners who think “Why is running so hard?” the moment the weather turns.
#3: Lower Stress Levels
Summer running routines are not only great for your body, they’re kind on your mind.
Running with the sun on your skin takes you to an otherwise unreachable place of happiness. You’ll reduce stress, depression and anxiety, get more fresh air, and work through problems faster than ever. Running and jogging helps to build tremendous perspective and let go of the small things.
What’s more, the restorative mental wellbeing benefits of early exercise can stay with you long after you’ve physically recovered. A run in the sun sets you up for a good mental health week.
#4: Improved Race Preparation
With most races taking place in Summer, it pays to build a consistent exercise routine in the build up.
The closer you get to that marathon (check out my Lisbon marathon review) or upcoming race, the more of an edge you can gain by mimicking race-day conditions during training. That includes warming up, running the same route at quiet times, getting comfortable with running in hot weather, and eating breakfast at the same time so you’re not running on an empty stomach.
Even if you’re not a morning person, your body will soon adapt to performing at its best early in the day.
#5: A Time of Personal Bests
More fun runs, marathons and ultras happen in Spring and Summer. This is what you’ve trained for.
You’ve channeled your inner Stoic athlete and put in the hard yards over winter. Yes, athletes have to endure pain, accept hard work and running in adverse weather as standard. Hardship is a necessary part of fulfilling your potential. Now that the conditions are more favorable, it’s time to show what you’re capable of.
#6: Run with Fewer Layers on
It can be a right faff layering up to run in the cold. All that specialist gear to fend off wind chill, keep you dry, and seen and safe in the dark.
Jogging in sunny weather, in comparison, is a breeze.
Wear lightweight, sweat-wicking, and breathable clothing in hot weather. This helps to keep your body temperature regulated and prevent overheating. Opt for light colors, as they reflect sunlight and keep you cooler. Additionally, choose loose-fitting clothes to allow better air circulation around your body.
Or, if you’re only venturing out for a quick jog, simply slap on a pair of shorts, t-shirt and sneakers, and you’re good to go.
#7: Easier to Find a Running Partner
Sticking to the same running regime not only limits your overall progress, it also quickly leads to boredom.
The cure is “Polarized training” – mixing up your intensity and routes, versus sticking to the same training regime again and again. So running slowly one day, and going all out the next. Or finding a jogging partner or joining a road runners club for one run per week, compared to running solo.
It’s no surprise that running outdoors becomes more appealing and popular in the Summer months. Parkruns, runners clubs, and the like, all report a boost in membership and attendance when the sun starts shining.
#8: Lose Weight and Trim Body Fat
The Summer months bring so much temptation: BBQs, beer gardens, holidays, picnics, to name a few.
Running or jogging in the sun is an insanely efficient calorie burner.
One 30-minute run kick-starts your metabolism, burning between 200-500 calories. Excuse the running pun, but that’s a fantastic step forwards to any weight loss goal. Coupled with a healthy diet, jogging works like a dream for positive overall weight management.
As the pace and temperature picks up, so too calorie burning —up to 10 more calories per minute per mile.
Other health benefits of physical activity in the sun includes better heart and bone health, lower cholesterol levels and improved blood pressure.
💌 Learn Runner Psychology… in 5 Mins a Month
#9: There’s More Adventures Jogging in Summer
There’s no better way to explore your local area or new holiday destination than with a run in the sun.
Jogging in Summer awakens all your senses as you slow down and enjoy your surroundings.
You’ll be amazed what you stumbled upon when chasing wonder on “Awe Runs“. Finding new routes. Embracing detours. Chasing magical sunrises. Finding new coffee shops and picnic spots. Discovering a new wild swimming lake nearby in York. Nature in full bloom. Seeking out shade in woodland or tree-lined paths. The light bouncing of buildings when running in the city center. It’s even easier to clean up your neighborhood when plogging in good weather.
Running is not a passive experience and the better weather allows you to take it all in.
#10: Improved Blood Pressure
Jogging in Summer months helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. The warm temperature helps your blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow and oxygen supply to muscles. Enhanced blood flow allows muscles to work more efficiently during a run and contributes to better overall cardiovascular health.
#12: Better Pit Stops – Ice Cream on a Hot Day 🍦
The carrots at the end of the stick are just better in the Summer!
You can’t beat an iced latte, cold beer or ice cream to keep motivation levels high.
They also have a unique ability to resuscitate the childlike wonder in us.
#13 The Instant Mood Boost
Running in the sun never fails to boost to my mood. Exposure to natural light plays a crucial role in regulating serotonin levels – a natural neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of happiness and well-being. Too little sunlight can lead to lower serotonin levels, increasing the risk of depression.
When I go jogging in Summer, I feel more energized and positive, thanks to the mood-enhancing effects of sunlight.
#14: Savior the Moment, In Less of a Rush
Speed isn’t everything. Slowing down and being present when running helps to release endorphins. The brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters otherwise known as a ‘runner’s high’.
Another benefit of slow jogging is how it’ll repay itself with absolute clarity and a daily dose of inspiration.
There’s no better way to move beyond writer’s block or work through a new challenge.
It’s only when we relieve ourselves from high-pressure situations and allow our minds to wander can we do our best thinking. You’re blessed with countless visual stimulation when our jogging in Summer.
#15: Jogging in Summer keeps you active
“Sitting is the new smoking.”
That’s right. If you sit more than 6 hours a day, you’re destroying your body and ruining your health. And there’s nothing worse than being cooped up indoors or in a car in good weather.
Why is sitting the new smoking? It leads to:
• Bad posture
• Aches & pains
• Obesity & fat gain
• Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
• Bad mood, depression & anxiety
So, embrace every moment you can to take a break and get outdoors when the sun is shining. It’s good for you!
Risks and Precautions of Jogging in the Sun
Skin Cancer and Sun Damage
While I enjoy running in the sun, it’s also important to recognize the risks associated with sun exposure. One of the most concerning risks is skin cancer, specifically malignant melanoma, which can develop from abnormal moles. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause these moles, as well as age spots, wrinkles, and blisters. To minimize these risks, I always take precautions like wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade when necessary.
Eye Damage and Protection
Sun exposure isn’t just harmful to my skin; it can also damage my eyes. UV radiation is a known cause of cataracts, which can blur my vision and eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. While running in the sun, I protect my eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. There’s lots of excellent water-resistant sunscreens for only a couple of dollars more than the regular stuff.
Additionally, I opt for a cap or wraparound sunglasses when longer runs in the sun, as they provide better coverage and reduce the amount of UV rays entering from the sides.
Maintaining Performance When Running in the Sun
Adjusting to Hot Weather
As I started running in the sun, I realized that it’s essential to gradually adapt to the hot weather. This helps prevent any potential health issues such as heat stroke, hypertension, and even autoimmune diseases. By slowly increasing my exposure to high temperatures and sunlight during my runs, I allowed my body to acclimatize and maintain its optimal performance.
Proper Hydration and Nutrition in High Temperatures
One of the most critical aspects of running in hotter weather is the need for proper hydration and nutrition. Dehydration can increase the risk of many health issues, including bone fractures, heart attack, and stroke. To ensure I remained well-hydrated, I carried a water bottle and consumed electrolyte-rich drinks. Additionally, I focused on maintaining a balanced diet to support my physical health.
Here are some hydration strategies I followed:
- Before a run: Drinking 500ml of water 2 hours prior
- During a run: Consuming 200ml of water every 20 minutes
- After a run: Drinking enough water to compensate for fluid loss
- Drinking water even if you’re not feeling thirsty
- Beginning the workout well-hydrated by consuming fluids throughout the day
- Consuming electrolyte-containing sports drinks for longer-duration activities
Rest and Recovery after a Run in the Sun
Lastly, rest and recovery are vital in maintaining my running performance in the sun. By allowing my body to recover after each run, I reduced the risk of overtraining and injury. Good sleep also contributed to better recovery, ensuring that my body could generate enough nitric oxide to improve my race times.
Moreover, I incorporated stretching and foam rolling sessions into my routine to help alleviate muscle soreness. These strategies have played a significant role in ensuring that I can maintain optimal performance while running in hot weather, all while minimizing the risk to my health.
Other Top Tips when Jogging in Summer:
- Wear the proper gear: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to help dissipate heat
- Adjusting pace: Run at an adjusted pace on hot, sunny days, even during races. Slowing down allows the body to better tolerate the conditions and prevent heat-related issues.
- Choosing shaded routes: When possible, opting for routes with ample shade allows for a more comfortable experience and minimizes direct sun exposure.
- Avoid the hottest parts of the day: Plan to run early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid peak temperatures. This also has the added benefit of quieter routes and less car pollution.
For a more complete list, check out my article full of tips for running in hot weather.
In summary, running in the sun offers numerous benefits, such as increased vitamin D production, an instant mood boost, better race times, and improved blood pressure. Incorporating outdoor runs into my exercise routine ensures that I make the most of these health advantages while enjoying the sunshine.