It’s vital to stay active as you age, but how can you keep working toward your fitness goals during the sweltering summer heat? Exercising outdoors as the temps — and humidity — climb may be not only uncomfortable but can risk conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you’re beginning any exercise program, it’s also best to check with your healthcare provider first.
Before heading out for a brisk power walk or a lively game of pickleball this summer, Andi Kwapien, a SilverSneakers National Trainer who will be teaching SilverSneakers classes from this year’s National Senior Games, offers tips that hold true whether you’re a competitive athlete or just staying active for your overall health.
When planning outdoor activities, make 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 not only the temperature and humidity but also the air quality where you live. If there are signs it could be hazardous for you to spend much time in the great outdoors, consider an indoor alternative.
Fitness experts advise warming up and cooling down before and after a workout. Start at a slower pace at first, then cool down gradually a few minutes before you end your session, followed by gentle stretching. Choose activities that are easy to do anywhere and that you can adjust to your own pace, such as walking, or that require less strenuous exertion 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 can take time for your body to get used to the heat, so start nice and easy, and lower your expectations for how long and hard you exercise. Take breaks, especially if you feel overheated, lightheaded or out of breath.
Try Organized Exercise
Getting involved in a fitness program provides many benefits, including expert advice and instruction, plus opportunities to enjoy the social and mental health benefits of fitness.
For example, SilverSneakers® by Tivity Health® is a health and fitness program for adults 65+ and is included for free in many Medicare Advantage plans. It includes live, 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 beverages containing electrolytes (like sports drinks) nearby anytime you’re working out, especially out in the heat. Take sips often, even before you feel thirsty, to help you regulate your temperature and replace moisture lost through sweating. The American Heart Association recommends drinking before, during and after your workout to help prevent health problems that could be exacerbated by dehydration.
Prepare for Heat and Sun
The Mayo Clinic also recommends taking other precautions outdoors in the summer, like wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and avoiding exertion during the hottest time of day (from around noon through 3 p.m.) To avoid too much sun exposure, stay in the shade when possible, wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply sunscreen. You may need to reapply it after swimming or sweating.
Using these tips should help you stay active even when it’s hot outside. Commonsense measures can help you enjoy your favorite activities, no matter what the weather.