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Running in the Sun: Health Benefits and 6 Pro Tips!

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The thing about running in the hot sun is that there can be benefits. If you do it right, running on a hot and sunny day can have similar effects to running at altitude.

Running in the sun can feel awesome on some days and in certain situations. However, running under the sun can make things feel considerably harder than jogging on a cooler day.

  • Do you find yourself struggling when running in the heat of the sun?
  • Should you avoid sun exposure for workouts or is it good to experience running in the heat?
  • Are there health benefits or only disadvantages to running in hot weather?

Should I Run In The Hot Sun?

The thing about running in the hot sun is that there can be benefits. If you do it right, running on a hot and sunny day can have similar effects to running at altitude. There is a reason for the quote, “Summer miles bring fall smiles.”

The work you do when it is hot and miserable out makes it all feel like a breeze when the temps go down. 

Let’s dig into the positives of running in the sun. 

Pros: Reasons to Run in the Sun

  1. Sunshine is good for you! Running in the sunshine gets you plenty of healthy vitamin D. In addition, it has been proven to positively impact your mental health.
  2. You will be faster come fall!
  3. Running in the heat helps you acclimate to hotter temperatures. While that may seem unnecessary, you never know what might happen with the weather on race day. 
  4. Increases your V02 Max.

Cons: What About the Negatives?

Just like anything, there are negative aspects to consider.

  1. Skin damage can occur fairly quickly if you have not adequately protected yourself. Be cognizant of that.
  2. Dehydration is always a consideration, but it happens more quickly in the heat.
  3. Heat cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke are all dangers you have to be careful to avoid.
  4. Hotter temps slow you down. 
  5. Running longer distances can become much more difficult.

Is It Harder to Run in the Sun?

Running on a sunny day in the winter is one thing, and running on a hot and steamy summer day can be quite another.

Because the sun and heat sap you of your energy very quickly, running in these circumstances can make the effort you put into the workout feel much harder than the same workout on a cooler or overcast day. 

This is something that needs to be taken into consideration by runners.

Making good choices during hot seasons can make all the difference. 

Does Running in the Sun Burn More Calories?

In the most technical sense, you burn more calories in the sun. However, the impact that will have on weight loss is negligible. It is also important to note that your body will work harder to cool itself in the heat.

You are far better off working out in a method and temperature where your body can do well and thrive than to seek out a certain temperature in the hopes of faster results.

Nothing worth having happens quickly or without cost.

Is it Better to Run at Night or in the Sun?

Honestly, this is not a case of better or worse. Running is good for you no matter what time of day you do it.

Now if you are training for a race that will have you running in heat and humidity, you bet you should train for those circumstances. Using that logic, you need to expose yourself to some hot and sunny running if you think there is any chance you might have that on race day.

Beyond those considerations, do what fits best into your schedule and makes you happiest. Your body will thank you for that!

6 Pro Tips for Running in the Sun

1. Maintain Proper Hydration 

Your body’s muscles and organs need water to operate and function at their highest levels (especially during a run). So you have to consistently replace the sweat you lose with water and/or hydrating liquids like sports drinks.

2. Protect Your Skin

Your skin needs protection from the sun’s rays and heat. As the temperature rises, you will be tempted to wear less and less running clothes and layers. While that makes sense, it also means you should leave your skin exposed. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

You need to make sure you lather up with plenty of sunscreens before you head out on your run (as well as just heading outside for any activity you might be doing). Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, but SPF 50 is even better. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from skin cancer, premature aging and age spots.

It is not just the sun that can cause problems. The hotter outside, the greater your chances of getting chaffing and blisters. Invest in a good anti-chafe cream, gel, or lotion and apply that to ‘trouble spots’ in addition to your sunscreen.

The areas that are most prone to chafing include areas that rub against clothing or skin on skin rubbing – the groin area, armpits, chest and nipples, and around the sock line or on toes if blisters are a concern.

3. Protect Your Eyes

After covering your skin, it is also essential that you think about your eyes. Get yourself a quality pair of sunglasses that covers your whole eye, and a hat with a visor.

Look for sunglasses that let no more than one percent UVB rays and one percent UVA rays. 

4. Go Easier on Yourself

Even though summer is the ideal time to build your base mileage and get yourself into shape for the fall running season, the heat might mean you need to be a little easier on yourself.

There will be plenty of time and opportunities to get in your long runs, tempo work, and speed workouts on the track.

But if your schedule only allows for you to run during the hottest parts of the day, then run by effort and not necessarily by pace, distance, or time. 

5. Beat the Heat

Try to beat the heat, too by running early morning, during the darker, cooler hours.

When the sun goes down at night, the air cools off and so the wee morning hours are going to be the coolest temperatures, as these are the hours in which the sun has been down for the longest stretch of time.

6. Scenery Change for the Win

Watch where you are running. Some people absolutely dread the treadmill, but on truly hot and sticky days, it can be a game-changer.

Be mindful of what you are running on, as darker colored asphalt and concrete get hotter and stay hotter longer than trails and grassy areas. Plus, there is often more shade when you are out running in nature.


  1. Jason Fitzgerald, Everything You Need to Know About Running in the Heat, LifeHacker blog

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