Summertime is here and with it comes the desire to get outdoors, breathe fresh air, soak up some sun and have fun! This is the perfect time to reap the benefits of warmer weather and longer days. Exercising outdoors is often more enjoyable and brings additional overall benefits, both physically and mentally.
Getting outside for even a brief period should be a priority for all aging adults – it helps your cognitive skills, mood, energy, and awareness of your surroundings. It’s also wonderful to be in nature and explore. It lifts your spirit, distracts you from negative thoughts and puts you in a happy state of mind! Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D which boosts the immune system and improves brain health. Be cautious though, older adults are prone to heat stress so you need to be exceedingly careful with activities in the heat. Early morning, late afternoon, or early evening are great times to schedule your workouts and still enjoy the sun’s rays.
Seniors are at greater risk of dehydration, heat stroke and other dangerous conditions. To avoid turning a fun day outside into a medical emergency, be sure you recognize the most common warning signs of heat related risk, such as:
- Heat Cramps –painful cramps or spasms that can occur after intense workouts or sweating in the heat. Make sure you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids containing electrolytes.
- Heat exhaustion – this is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Drink cool fluids and dress for heat and humidity.
- Heat stroke – the whole body becomes overwhelmed by heat and loses its ability to regulate temperature. Symptoms include dry, flushed skin, a rapid pulse, changes in behavior (such as becoming combative or confused), and a lack of sweating. Be sure to seek medical assistance immediately!
It’s important to be extra vigilant while active in warmer weather. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand and go quickly inside or find some shade if you start feeling dizzy. It can be hard to recognize the warning signs when you’re outside having fun – be sure to pay attention to the signals your body is trying to send you!
Healthy Tips for Summer Outdoor Workouts
- Increase your hydration levels. Drink before, during and after exercise. Water is one of the best fluids to drink when engaged in activity. Sports drinks with electrolytes and nutrients help replenish vital minerals that you sweat out. You can also rehydrate by eating summer fruits that contain water, such as watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and peaches, just to name a few. Be sure to bring one of these healthy snacks with you the next time you work out outside.
- Wear comfortable activewear, clothes and shoes that breathe.
- Always apply sunscreen and wear a hat if possible.
- Recognize when it is better to exercise indoors due to hot weather.
- Inform others of your plans and when you anticipate to return.
- Avoid slips, trips and falls. Always wear appropriate shoes, stay alert, and take your walker with you (if you are using one).
- Get out early before it heats up or late in the day when it cools off.
Get ready, get set for the best summer yet!
This article originally appeared in the Coastal Breeze.