While we all pretty much know these days that it’s important to stay cool and hydrated during the warm summer months, many women with heart disease do not know how the heat specifically affects their bodies. Because exercise is so important to maintaining heart health, you’ll want to continue exercising even as the weather heats up; however, as you exercise, your heart is bringing blood and oxygen to your muscles while your body cools itself off through sweating. This can cause your heart to pump harder as it tries to keep up with the fluid loss, creating a possibly dangerous scenario.
How to stay safe while exercising during a long, hot summer? Here are a few tips to keep you both cool and heart-healthy, no matter what the weather brings:
1. If you are planning to exercise outdoors, try to schedule your workout for early morning or late evening hours when the air temperature is cooler and the sun is less intense. You can check local weather information to find out when the hottest hours of the day generally are (often around 4 or 5 in the afternoon) and make sure to avoid those times. It's also a good idea to check the air quality forecast for your area at airnow.gov
2. If you can, opt for indoor exercise in a climate-controlled environment on particularly hot days, such as at a local gym.
3. Add swimming to your summer workouts -- it’s a terrific form of exercise that’s great for your heart, reduces stress on your knees and back, and keeps your body cool. If you’re swimming outdoors, don’t forget the sunblock. Learn more about the benefits of swimming here.
4. Stay properly hydrated. Heart disease patients should follow their doctor’s guidelines, but the Mayo Clinic recommends about 8 glasses of water per day, adding one or two glasses for fluid replacement during or following exercise. Hot weather foods like watermelon and tomatoes are also great sources of extra fluid. Read more about how to stay safely hydrated during hot weather here.