How To Stay Active in the Sweltering Heat
It’s summertime, which means the weather is hot…in many areas of the country, in the 100s to 110s!
While some people love this kind of summertime heat, the rising temps present a big challenge when it comes to exercising—and even simply hanging out—outdoors. This is especially true if you have a heart condition or heart disease.
Warm weather puts extra strain on the heart by causing it to beat faster, and therefore work harder to keep body temperature cool.
However, people with heart problems don’t adapt as easily, which puts them at higher risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Sweat is the body’s built-in “air conditioner,” helping to cool you down when you get overheated. When the sweat on your skin evaporates, it releases heat away. This system is surprisingly effective—in fact, just a teaspoon of sweat can lower your body temp by 2 degrees! (Humidity, though, makes the process a little less effective since it doesn’t allow sweat to evaporate.)
The problem with sweat is that along with losing fluid, you lose important minerals like sodium and potassium. These are critical for heart function, muscle contraction, proper nervous system function, and more.
To add insult to injury, some heart medications, like diuretics, remove even more fluid from the body. So on a hot day, between sweat and fluid lost from the drug, you could set yourself up for dehydration and heat exhaustion if you’re not careful. Other heart drugs like ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers also change the way the body responds to heat.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean you should sit inside until the fall! Getting outside, even on warm days, is so important for not only your physical health, but your psyche as well.
Before you do any kind of strenuous activity outdoors, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor, especially if you have heart problems or any other chronic disease. He/she will tell you how to navigate the challenges that come with the heat, your health condition, and medications you’re taking.
Summer Safety Tips
Once you do that, here are some tips on how to safely stay active in the hot summer months:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Be sure to load up on water before going outside to exercise or even just to enjoy some fresh air. While outside, continue to take sips of water regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Talk to your doctor about the use of electrolyte drinks/supplements, which can help replenish minerals lost in sweat.
- Eat for hydration. Fruits and vegetables are packed with water and can help rehydrate you as well. Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, lettuce, cucumber, and celery are all great summertime options that have a ton of water content.
- Timing is everything. Get outside to exercise either in the early morning hours or later at night, when temperatures are lower. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day (noon to 3pm). You may also want to try an activity like swimming or water aerobics, which keep you cool.
- Dress for temperature-regulation success. Dress in lightweight, light-colored, moisture-wicking fabrics.
- Take breaks. You will probably need more breaks than usual when it’s hot out. Find shaded areas when necessary, and stop what you’re doing if you feel tired or faint.
- Know the signs of heat-related illness. Keep an eye out for these symptoms, and seek immediate medical care if you’re experiencing any of them: nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, disorientation, changes in skin temperature, headache, rapid heartbeat and/or breathing.
Supplements that Boost Your Heart Health
Hot or not, there are certain nutrients you may want to consider taking to keep your heart healthy and make it more resilient against everyday stressors. Two of the best are omega-3 fatty acids and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
Research shows that a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can help decrease chronic inflammation and, in turn, reduce the risk and symptoms of inflammatory diseases like heart disease. Beyond their anti-inflammatory properties, studies show that omega-3s can help boost healthy HDL cholesterol while lowering dangerous triglycerides. They can also help lower blood pressure and naturally thin the blood.
Benefits Of CoQ10
CoQ10 also protects the heart in many ways. It fuels your mitochondria—the tiny organelles in every single cell that function as energy factories. CoQ10 escorts electrons from the foods you eat to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—a molecule that contains a readily available form of energy.
CoQ10 shields the heart and arteries from oxidative stress and inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. In addition to its well-documented heart-protective properties, CoQ10 has been shown to fight periodontal disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, and other conditions associated with aging and free radical damage.
You can find omega-3s, CoQ10, and other important heart nutrients in Newport Natural Health’s heart supplement Complete Cardio Support.
Finally, always remember, getting outside for some sunshine and fresh air—even if it’s hot air—is great for your heart, brain, and whole body. Just because it is hot out doesn’t mean you need to confine yourself to your house. If the heat is too much for you to walk or exercise outdoors, that’s ok. Work out at a gym or in your home, but at least get outside with a glass of iced tea and sit on your back porch or deck. The boost to your mood and overall health will be worth it!
Last Edit: 30 July, 2021