Have an active summer (despite the heat!)

August 3, 2009 by  

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950189_sunflower_smilesResource post for the summer

Summer, summer, here it comes. School vacation has started. Warm days and warm nights. The summer heat can have an effect on your cardiovascular health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA)

Exercising outside in hot and humid conditions can be hard on your heart. This is true even for athletes who haven’t yet adapted to the heat. The problem is made worse because the heart is trying to deliver blood and oxygen to your working muscles while your body is trying to cool off by sweating. If you sweat too much, you lose fluid. This decreases your total blood volume. That means your heart has to pump even harder to get the smaller volume of blood to your working muscles, skin and the other body parts. When you lose too much fluid, your body temperature rises and your nervous system doesn’t work properly. Extreme fluid loss can lead to brain and heart damage.

Stay active in the summer

However, we shouldn’t use the summer heat as an excuse to stop exercising and become sedentary. This, too, is not good for the heart. The AHA gives the fgymnastollowing tips for staying active, safe and heart healthy even when it’s hot scorching outside.

  • Take up indoor sports, e.g. squash, basketball, aerobics
  • Go to the gym and work out in an air conditioned room.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go for a walk – at the mall.
  • Go ice skating.

Stay active indoors

I have friends living in Dubai, and every summer, the schools are closed for three months because the desert heat is just unbearable and a health hazard for the children. However, the residents of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) are very creative and came up with ways to keep people active but not overheated in the summer – indoors, of course.

  • Swimming. There are lots of indoor water theme parks out there where you can around the whole and stay cool.
  • Malling. The malls out there are huge, with play grounds and soft areas for playing. Perfect for mall walking.
  • Working out at the gym. You can even practice your skiing and snowboarding moves with the snow and the gear – doing special workouts.
  • Ice skating/skiing. Yes, you can ski in the middle of the summer in Dubai. No, I am not talking about skiing in the sand dunes. I am talking about real snow and real alpine atmosphere. Ski Dubai in Dubai Emirates Mall opened its indoor slopes end of 2005, supposedly “the world’s third largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 meters and using 6000 tons of snow.” Another indoor skiing resort is under construction.

Stay active outdoors

We live in Switzerland and although we don’t suffer as much from high temperatures compared to our friends in the U.A.E., we do get heat waves from time to time. So how do we deal with the heat? We go out! You see, air conditioning is not very common in this part of the world so that staying indoors can be… well …hot.

  • We go swimming in the pools, in the lakes, in the rivers. Despite the fact that Switzerland is landlocked, and therefore doesn’t have a coastline, there are children3plenty of natural water bodies for swimming. This includes the lake and the two rivers flowing through Zurich, the country’s biggest city. Believe me, the water is clean! For those who live away from the lake, almost every little town has a swimming pool. From where we live, we have about 6 public swimming pools within an 8-km periphery to choose from, just the perfect distance for cycling. The pools usually have trees to provide shade for those who just want to laze around.
  • We go to the mountains. Now, you think mountain hiking is not exactly what you’d like to do in the summer heat. Well, it’s definitely much cooler up there although the UV rays are also much stronger so sunscreen is a must. Of course we sweat. But there’s always a lake or a river to jump in and cool down.
  • We go to the forest. The more trees there are, the cooler it is. Cool enough that we even dare to barbecue in the summer heat. There are specially designated places for grills and picnics. However, beware of tick-infested areas!
  • We drink. In most of the parks, mountain paths, and forests, there are drinking fountains strategically located for bikers, hikers, and walkers to refill their water bottles. Again, you have the guarantee that the water is potable. And if you pass by a farmhouse, chances are, there’s an easy accessible fridge outside where you can grab a cold glass of fresh milk. Help yourself and drop a coin in the cash box.

And skiing? Oh yes, there is enough snow on highest mountain peaks but we leave that to the Swiss national skiing team who need to practice the whole year round. Skiing for the mere mortals is for winter – outdoors.

So how about you? How do you beat the summer heat? How do you stay active in the summer?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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