Summer exercise |

Summer exercise

As I sit inside at my desk writing this column, I realize I would rather be outside riding my bike. But I can’t because it is too darn smoky.

If you believe the stats – because of our geography – Nevada County air is among the most polluted (ozone) in the country! Add consistently high pollen counts, lack of humidity, smoke from forest fires, and extremely high temperatures in July and August, and that leaves us with many days that it is unwise to try to exercise outside.

Over the years, I’ve often heard people say they plan to put their gym membership on ‘vacation hold’ or to suspend formal training during the summer because they are so active outdoors. Given our summer air, I say that’s crazy talk! Even though we live in the forest and can enjoy a rural lifestyle, we still have some ‘big city’ problems in regards to breathing outside.

As a resident of Nevada County since 1977, I have seen the quality of our air diminish significantly. Rather than bagging my entire exercise program because of unhealthy air, I strive to create alternative plans.

Did you know that one of the best times to workout in a gym is in the summer? Many “New Year’s Resolutioner’s” have lost their momentum by then, making the gym a cool, quiet, spacious place to workout when the air outside is bad.

If you are totally committed to exercising outdoors, you may want to reschedule your workout to early morning before the heat and pollutants are high. Choose shady routes close to water (creek, ditch, etc.) whenever possible. When appropriate, consider using sunscreen and bug repellent.


Drink plenty of liquids regardless of temperature … specifically choose water unless you are going to be out longer than an hour, then consider sport drinks diluted with water (50/50). A good indicator of hydration is to check the color of your urine, which should be clear. Water packs (i.e. Camelbak) can be a good investment as they often encourage more consistent hydration because they are more convenient than bottled water.

What to wear

Wear appropriate workout clothing. Drop the cotton and get some light colored, fast dry, cooling synthetics. Select fabrics that “breathe” allowing more moisture to be released from your body. Regarding hats – not only do they shield your skin from the sun, they also prevent the sun from heating up the blood vessels lining your scalp. Remember, when wearing a hat in the heat, occasionally take it off to let the heat escape.


Take short breaks often. By taking a short break, you will actually give your body the boost it needs to perform better.

Risking heat stroke is dangerous business and will not prove your athletic prowess.


If you think you are safe from heat while swimming, think again! You actually sweat in the water and can get dehydrated and overheated. 75 Ð 78 degrees is the ideal temperature for water exercise. If the water is warmer than 80 degrees, it may be too hot for a strenuous summer workout.

What’s the final word in summer exercise? Do it! All in all, we live in an amazing place, so try not to let the challenges get in the way of your commitment. Stay smart and you can beat the heat and the smoke.

Scott Jackson, CSCS, MES, is the owner of Scott Jackson’s Real Life Fitness Personal Training Studio in Nevada City and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a Medical Exercise Specialist and an IDEA Master Trainer. Email questions to, call 265-4041 or visit

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Club News: Sept. 18, 2021


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