Depending on where you live the summer heat may be approaching or is already at its height. Staying active becomes a challenge, especially for people over 50. Exercising in hot weather requires additional precautions to ensure your safety.
My aim is to provide a comprehensive guide for my BoneSmarties over 50, offering tips and strategies for staying fit while minimizing the risk of heat-related illnesses.
- Stay Hydrated: Hydration is crucial when exercising in hot weather, as your body loses water through perspiration. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration due to decreased thirst sensation. To combat this, it’s essential to drink water before, during, and after physical activity. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you and sip regularly to maintain proper hydration levels. Consider infusing your water with electrolytes or swap out for a sports drink. Electrolytes help you replenish minerals lost through sweat. That’s why water alone is not enough if you’re exercising outdoors in the heat.
- Time Your Workouts: When the sun is at its peak, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the heat is most intense. It’s advisable to plan your workouts during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. This reduces exposure to extreme heat and minimizes the risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
- Dress Appropriately: Wearing the right clothing can make a significant difference in staying cool during exercise. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow air circulation and aid in moisture-wicking. Loose-fitting clothing in light colors reflects sunlight and helps in maintaining a comfortable body temperature. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses protects against the sun’s harmful rays and reduces heat-related discomfort.
- Protect Your Skin: Exercising outdoors increases exposure to harmful UV radiation. Individuals over 50 are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin damage. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher with broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if sweating excessively. Seeking shade when possible or exercising under tree cover can provide additional protection from direct sunlight.
You should always wear sunscreen when you go outside, but you should be even more diligent about it if you plan on being out during peak hours.
- Check the thermostat and your ceiling fans: Most gyms/health clubs set their thermostats so the air conditioner runs often and keeps the humidity (and sweat) out of the air! If you have your home A/C set to an economical setting, and you’re doing a high intensity class like HIIT – you may want to make sure your ceiling fans are on and lower your AC for the time it takes you to do a class.