July 2021

How seniors can stay active and healthy in the heat

(NC) Extreme heat is a reality in many parts of the country throughout the summer. For everyone, but especially older adults, extreme heat can pose serious health risks if you’re not careful. At the same time, it’s vital for seniors to stay active to remain healthy as they age.

Here are a few tips to help you exercise safely when temperatures rise.

Know your risks
Older adults may face additional factors that could increase risk during extreme heat, such as chronic conditions, social isolation or medications that interfere with the body’s cooling mechanisms. If you take medication, consult with your family doctor or pharmacist about your level of risk.

Plan ahead
Know what the temperature is before you start exercising. That way you can modify your physical activity accordingly, whether it’s moving your walk to a shaded area or an air-conditioned building or rescheduling to a cooler part of the day.

Stay connected
Try exercising with others and have someone pay special attention to how you’re doing. Arrange for regular check-ins by family, friends and neighbours during very hot days in case you need assistance. Just remember to follow the public health advisories that are in place in your area.

Drink more water
By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So, drink plenty of water before, during and after being physically active. Increase your comfort by splashing yourself with cold water.

Be realistic and recover
Try not to expect the usual performance from yourself during extreme heat, and allow your body to recover after heat exposure. Spend a few hours in a cooler shaded area or somewhere that’s air conditioned, such as your home, a shopping mall or public building.

Look for symptoms
Any time it’s hot out, watch for symptoms of heat illness. These include dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, headache, or rapid breathing and heartbeat. If you have any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place and drink water right away.

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