For aging adults, exercise is essential to maintain physical and mental health. As seniors migrate to the warmer regions of the United States, exercise can become easier to access with outdoor walks, but sometimes the climate may also be more challenging. For example, if you reside in Arizona, you may be delighted to find that most days are sunny, warm, and dry—perfect for getting outdoors and getting active. However, the dry heat of Arizona can also be dangerous for anyone, especially aging adults.
Before you exercise outdoors in the arid Arizona heat, keep these 5 tips in mind:
1. Exercise at dawn and dusk
You surely know that temperatures tend to be coolest at dawn and dusk. Therefore, these are the best times to exercise outdoors, if you want to beat the heat. You will most certainly want to avoid the middle of the day, when temperatures tend to be at their hottest. Now, even if it is cooler out, be sure to use sunscreen. As the sun rises or sets, you are still at risk of sunburn. Additionally, if you exercise in the early evening hours, you may want to use bug repellant to avoid being bothered by insects.
2. Drink plenty of fluids
Exercising always requires hydration. In the dry heat of Arizona, you may be even more susceptible to dehydration. If you choose to take a walk or exercise outdoors, you definitely want to hydrate beforehand and pack some water with you as well. Eating a small snack, or choosing beverages with electrolytes in them, may also be a good idea to ensure that you stay in balance and do not end up dehydrated. Eating a banana each day can also help with prevent dehydration and muscle cramps.
3. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics
As you work-out in the heat, you may find yourself becoming uncomfortably sweaty. The good news is that today, there are a plethora of active-wear options, many of which include moisture-wicking fabric. This fabric option can help to keep your skin dry, which should not only increase your physical comfort, it will also help your body to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Also, choose attire that fits comfortably and that will not irritate your skin or joints by being too restrictive.
4. Take a friend along
Having a companion during your workout is always a nice thing. Of course, they can provide social support and encouragement. It generally makes the experience more fun and turns it from a chore into a social outing. Taking a friend along during outdoor exercise is also a safe idea. If you do not have someone to invite, or even if you do, it is also a good idea to take your cell phone or another means of communication. This is a great back-up, just in case you get worn out, and want to get home quickly.
5. Have a back-up plan
Rain is not too common in most parts of Arizona, but on a rainy day or an extremely hot day, it is a good idea to have an alternate idea for your work-out regimen. That back-up plan could be going to the local mall to walk laps or it could involve watching a work-out video in the comfort of your home. You could also find a local gym or YMCA, where you can use the equipment, or take classes, in a comfortable and safe environment. Many senior centers and senior living communities also offer exercise options.
Staying active is important for aging adults, and that is why exercise for seniors is generally recommended. These tips can help you do that safely, and it is also a good idea to consult with your medical providers before enacting any particular work-out routine, to ensure your health and safety.