Being active is essential as you age, but how can you work towards your fitness goals in the summer heat? Temperature – Humidity – Exercising outdoors like hiking is not only uncomfortable, but can also put you at risk for conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you are starting any exercise program, it is also a good idea to consult your health care provider first.
Before heading out for a brisk power walk or a lively game of Pickle Ball this summer, Silver Sneakers National Trainer Andy Kwapian, who is teaching Silver Sneakers classes at this year’s National Senior Games, offers the right tips, whether you’re a competitive athlete or not. Stay active for your overall health.
When planning outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather. Your local news station or the National Weather Service can help you decide if it’s a good day to spend outside. Check the temperature and humidity but also the air quality where you live. If you have symptoms that make spending too much time in the great outdoors dangerous, consider an indoor alternative.
Fitness experts advise warming up and cooling down before and after exercise. Start slow at first, then gradually cool down a few minutes before the end of your session, then gently stretch. Choose activities that are easy to do anywhere and can be set at your own pace, such as walking, or activities that require minimal effort and strength while keeping you active and cool, such as water exercises.
Know your limits and listen to your body’s signals. According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes time for your body to adjust to the heat, so start out nice and easy and lower your expectations for how long and hard you’ll exercise. Take breaks, especially if you feel overheated, dizzy or short of breath.
Try structured exercise
Engaging in a fitness program offers many benefits, including expert advice and instruction, as well as opportunities to enjoy the social and mental health benefits of fitness.
For example, SilverSneakers® by Tivity Health® is a health and fitness program for seniors over age 65 and is included free of charge in many Medicare Advantage plans. This includes live and online fitness classes, on-demand videos, and access to a network of up to 22,000 fitness locations nationwide, including community fitness locations.
Learn more at SilverSneakersLetsGo.com.
Always keep water or drinks with electrolytes (such as sports drinks) nearby whenever you work out, especially in the heat. Take frequent sips, even before you feel thirsty, to help you regulate your temperature and replace moisture lost through sweat. The American Heart Association recommends drinking before, during, and after your workout to prevent health problems worsened by dehydration.
Prepare for heat and sun
The Mayo Clinic also recommends taking precautions outdoors in summer, such as wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest hours (noon to 3 p.m.). Stay in the shade when possible, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen. You need to reapply it after swimming or sweating.
Using these tips will help you stay active even when it’s hot outside. Commonsense measures will help you enjoy your favorite activities no matter the weather.