Summer often offers dry, warm weather, and that means that people are more likely to get outside and be active. Unfortunately, a sudden increase in exercise (especially if you’ve taken the winter off), often leads to injuries. That’s why it’s so important to ease into any sort of summer sport that you’re participating in.

Allowing your body to gradually get used to the exercise will go a long way to help you avoid tearing, pulling, or straining something. Here are some other things to keep in mind when you get outside to exercise this summer:

Hydrate properly

Long summer days mean that you have that much more opportunity to get outside and be active. But more hours in the sun means that you’re more likely to get dehydrated. That’s why paying close attention to your level of hydration during warmer summer months is so important.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Hydrating before you start exercising will make your workout that much more enjoyable and beneficial. And if it’s an especially hot day, you’ll lose more fluids than normal because you’ll likely be sweating excessively. That’s when you have to be sure to replace those fluids and the same rate that you’re losing them. It’s always a good idea to drink more water than you think you need, just to be safe.

Mind the heat

When the temperature is 90 degrees and above, your risk for heat related illness increases drastically. Cold, clammy, or flushed skin and a lack of sweating are all early symptoms of heat exposure, but the fact is that these symptoms often go unnoticed and athletes don’t realize they’re experiencing a heat related illness until they start to feel sick or dizzy. It’s important to watch out for these symptoms and, if you’re exercising in a group, to watch out for symptoms in others as well.

Wearing light colored and well-ventilated clothing will also help in this area. And keep an eye out for shade. Getting out of direct sunlight will go a long way in cooling your body down and making your workout more enjoyable. If you’re going to be exercising in a place that doesn’t have ample shade available, bring along an umbrella or some other piece of equipment that will provide you with a shady spot to rest.

Listen to your body

This is so important to remember when you exercise, no matter what season you’re doing it in. You know your body best and you’ll be able to tell if you’re over-stressing it. If you start to feel a strain, soreness, or any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion mentioned above, take a break. Remember that if you injure yourself you won’t be able to get out and enjoy the nice weather, so make sure that you’re paying attention to what your body is telling you.