Seniors: Exercise Caution during Summer Workouts
ENGLEWOOD, CO – While many relish the opportunity to take both play and exercise outdoors as the weather continues to warm, Active Rx (Englewood) owner Dana Patten reminds us that beneficial exercise comes with an added level of risk when done in the summertime heat and humidity – especially for seniors.
“Heat adds an extra level of stress to the body as you exercise, and the ramifications of this can be dangerous for aging adults, especially if they don’t go about it mindfully,” Patten said. “Whether you’re golfing, riding your bike, walking your dog or doing chores around the house, if you don’t take certain precautions when exercising in the heat, you can put yourself and your health at risk.”
According to the Patten, older adults typically experience an increased risk of heat-related illness and injury, often due to little more than the natural effects of aging. From a decrease in the body’s ability to cool itself quickly and the reduction of thirst sensation, to issues with circulation and blood pressure, older adults find themselves at an increasingly greater risk of cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
“This isn’t to say that older adults shouldn’t feel they can exercise in the fresh summer air,” Patten said. “If they chose to, however, it’s paramount they do so safely, and that begins with first talking with your doctor to see if your body’s healthy enough to take on the added stress of summer heat.”
Once cleared by a doctor, Patten offers the following advice for active, older adults as summer approaches:
- Practice Good Timing: Avoid midday workouts by exercising early in the morning or late in the evening. By avoiding the hottest time of the day, you’ll get the added benefit of avoiding the sun’s harmful rays.
- Acclimate Your Body: It can take a week or two for your body to acclimate to hotter weather, so take it easy during the early summer heat. Start the season slowly, gradually increasing workout length and intensity.
- Drink Early & Often: Drink before, during and after your workout. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty as this is often a sign you’re already dehydrated. Hydration is a key to preventing heat-related illness.
- Dress for Heat/Protection: Wear light, loose-fitting, bright-colored clothing that will help sweat evaporate, keeping your body cool. Also, protect yourself by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF.
- When in Doubt, Stop: If you develop muscle cramps, become nauseous, feel weak, or suffer a headache, dizziness or confusion, stop what you’re doing. Drink water, and see a physician if symptoms continue.
According to Patten, establishing a workout catered to your personal strengths and weaknesses, one established in tandem with your doctor’s recommendations, is also paramount in maintaining a safe exercise regimen as you age. The physical therapists at ActiveRx provide comprehensive strength and movement assessments for clients as well as workouts that provide a foundation for functional aging, fitness and health.
ActiveRx operates an Active Aging Center in Englewood, CO, where older adults go to enhance their aging experiences through physical therapy and strength training. ActiveRx works with clients to increase independence, vitality, energy, strength, flexibility, balance, mobility and cognitive functions. For more information, visit www.activerx.com.