Heart health and extreme heat do not go well together. And this summer, we are experiencing a heat wave. Under such circumstances, we cannot blame people if they’d rather stay at home and stay sedentary. However, do not let the summer heat beat us. We still need physical exercise regardless of the heat outside. Here are some tips on how to stay active this summer. I compiled this from recommendations of the American Heart Association (AHA) as well as from my own experience.
Here is what the AHA recommends:
- Going to a gym for a nice, cool environment with a variety of activities.
- Visiting your favorite local swimming hole or taking swimming lessons at a pool.
- Starting a walking group with your friends at the mall. The MyStart! Community, an online tool, encourages walkers to connect with others — whether from the neighborhood or on the other side of the country — to stay on track with a walking program.
- Taking up an indoor sport, such as racquetball, basketball or volleyball, or taking an aerobics class.
- Going ice skating.
Here are the things that I do to keep active:
Go for a walk or run early in the mornings or evenings. I normally jog during my lunch break. But in this summer heat, this isn’t possible anymore. I now go early mornings, just before 8 am, as soon as my kids go off to school. Even though I’d rather get an early start with my work, I rearranged my schedule to accommodate a 30-minute run each morning. Luckily, as a self-employed, I can be flexible.
Last April, while on holidays in tropical Asia, a morning jog on the beach and an evening stroll under stars were a great way to beat the tropical heat.
Take the stairs. When I had to go on client visits or shop at a mall, I try to take two to three flights of stairs rather than take the lift or the escalator.
Go to the forest or up the mountains. There was a day last week when an early run wasn’t possible. So I did my run at noon – in the forest. You would be surprised how trees and their shade can make a difference. On the weekends, we go hike in areas of higher altitude (thus cooler temperatures) but also in wooded areas. Last week we had this beautiful walk at 800 m above sea level, which is still low by Swiss standards but was cool enough. We aim to go higher this weekend.
Swim in the lakes and rivers. After the walk last weekend, we ended up bathing in the nearest river. The cold water flowing down from the mountains were so refreshing and would beat water from any pool anytime. We are lucky that Swiss lakes and rivers are so clean!
Take note that there are some indoor skiing areas in some countries. If you live in one of these countries (example: Dubai), then this is your chance to start learning how to ski.
Go to the gym. When everything else fails, the gym is still your best bet. Again, in tropical Asia a couple of months ago, this was the only option to stay active while staying in the big cities. And I almost invariably go for the treadmill and the pedometer.
Heat is not an excuse for being sedentary. Let’s get moving, no matter what.