If you are a heart patient, especially if you are older than 50 or overweight, you should take special precautions in the heat.
Before starting an exercise routine check with your healthcare professional and discuss any concerns you may have. You also want to talk about the medication you are on. Certain heart medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics (which deplete the body of sodium) can exaggerate the body’s response to heat.
Whether you are on medications or not, older people should take care in the heat. If you are going to be outside, it is important to drink water even if you do not think you need it. At the point you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Everyone can maintain an active and healthy lifestyle regardless of the temperature outside, just make sure you take the proper precautions.
Tips for everyone
Ready to brave the heat? It is best to avoid the outdoors in the early afternoon (around noon – 3pm). The sun is usually at its strongest and puts you at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses. Early in the day or evenings are great times to get outside and walk, garden, swim, or any outdoor activities. You can also take advantage of air-conditioned facilities like a mall or indoor track to walk when temperatures soar. Remember the buddy system, exercising with a friend is fun and safer.
More tips for staying comfortable and safe in the heat.
Something many do not think of is that we sweat a lot in our shoes. You want well-ventilated shoes and socks that repel perspiration. Keeping your feet comfortable in the heat makes for a more enjoyable time outside.
Dressing for the heat is important. You want to wear lightweight and light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton. Synthetic fabric that repels sweat is a great option too.
Do not forget to protect your head and eyes. A stylish hat will not only look great but protect your scalp and provide some shade for your face. Sunglasses are important to protect your eyes from the sun. Use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 to any exposed skin and reapply it every two hours.
Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate! Drink water before, during and after you go out in the heat. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages both can contribute to dehydrated.
Take regular breaks and rest. Relax in some shade or a cool place for few minutes, hydrate and continue. Just because temperatures may be high you can still exercise and enjoy outside, adapt, and stay safe.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Cool, moist skin
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine
If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by using cool wet cloths, compresses, and fanning. You may need to seek medical attention.
Symptoms of heat stroke:
The symptoms of heat stroke include (call 911 or the local emergency number right away):
- Fever (temperature above 104 °F)
- Irrational behavior
- Extreme confusion
- Dry, hot, and red skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Rapid, weak pulse
Consult your Doctor
Your doctor is a partner in helping you stay healthy and active; they can advise you about your specific needs. Your healthcare provider can help you choose activities that will help your heart and are safe for you.
Being active is part of your heart-healthy lifestyle. Along with a heart healthy diet, exercise may strengthen your heart muscle, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and help keep your bones strong. Regular exercise can help you lose weight and feel better.
If you are new to exercise start slow and build up gradually little by little. Remember the more exercise you can the healthier you and your heart will be. Any amount will help.