There are many reasons to exercise:
- Prevent chronic disease (i.e. heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancers, etc.)
- Manage weight
- Manage stress and mood
- Improve sleep quality
- Build muscle
- Boost immunity
- Improve brain function
- Strengthen bones
The list of benefits goes on.
Whether you are a regular exerciser or just getting started, you need to ensure you take steps to protect your heart when exercising in the summer heat.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Drink water before, during, and after exercise to ensure you stay well-hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
If you dislike drinking plain water, add flavor by adding fruit slices to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for a couple hours. You can try water with berries, cucumber, melon, oranges, or mint.
Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics that are light in color. Good fabric choices include cotton or synthetic fabrics that repel sweat. Protect your face and eyes with a hat and sunglasses. Use water-resistant sunscreen. Select appropriate, well-ventilated shoes.
Pay attention to your body.
If your body is telling you to stop, listen. There’s no need to push it, especially if you are just getting started with your exercise routine.
Don’t push too hard. You need extra breaks during the warm summer months, so plan for periodic stops in the shade to cool down and hydrate.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Cool, moist skin
- Dark urine
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately and move to a cool place. Use cool water, wet clothes, and fanning to bring down your temperature. Heat exhaustion may require emergency medical care.
Avoid intense activity between noon and 3 p.m. Aim for early morning or late evening workouts during the summer months to avoid the worst heat.
Move your workout indoors.
Mix up your routine and give your body a break from the summer sun by utilizing indoor recreation centers and gyms. Explore Zumba classes, racquetball, yoga, or swimming, which could also be an excellent outdoor activity to counteract the heat!
Know your medications.
There are heart medications that can amplify the body’s response to heat. Discuss with your doctor if you take blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and/or diuretics.
The summer months are a great time to get outside and improve your heart health. By implementing the steps outlined above, you can ensure your summer fitness activities will be safe and positive experiences.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.