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Keeping Physical Activity Heart Healthy in Extreme Heat

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Heart Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

I keep looking for the souvenir T-shirt -- you know, the one that says “I Survived the Heat Wave of 2011!” Unless you live in a totally enclosed air-conditioned bubble from which you never venture, the heat is hard to miss - or escape. This is a summer of extreme heat and new heat related records for things such as highest daily temperature on record, most days of 100+ degree days in a row, hottest month on record, most days without rain, for example, are being set on a daily basis. Instead of frying eggs on the sidewalk, one of the local newscasters baked a pan of brownies out in the sun. Now, I don’t care where you’re from but that’s H-O-T!

When it comes to our heart health, one of the items that suffer in this type of extreme heat is physical activity. Lack of physical exercise or activity is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular or heart disease. Let’s face it. For some exercise-challenged individuals, getting up and getting moving is hard enough to do when the weather is moderate. Add the extreme heat to the mix, and the only place most would like to move is closer to air conditioning vent! Unfortunately, most doctors do not consider getting up to turn the thermostat down a valid form of physical activity.

This type of extreme heat leaves us with a quandary. On one hand, you can’t simply take a summer vacation from physical activity – that’s bad for your heart health. On the other hand, how can you safely workout in this extreme heat without causing the very heart problems you’re trying to avoid?

The truth is that you can still engage in physical activity in extreme heat and protect your heart at the same time. But, in this extreme heat, you need to take a little extra care and be smart in planning your workout. Following are some tips to keep you and your heart healthy and safe when working out in extreme heat.

1. Water, water, and more water! Staying hydrated is essential during this extreme heat. Make certain you hydrate before you begin your workout and take water with you to rehydrate during your workout. Keep drinking that water even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Add a Comment2 Comments


Thanks so much WillaLee...You are so right that it's important to continue to stay active and that the key is to be safe while working out. It's been 109 - 112 here all week (that's extreme!) and like you, I'm drinking plenty of water, picking the time, and dressing cool!

August 30, 2011 - 7:38pm

Thanks for the article and yes it has been a very hot and humid summer but I am not complaining,just being very aware of the times I go for walks and it seems to be late evening.I am drinking plenty of water. It is very important to keep active during the summer but also in extreme heat to be aware of your health and play it save.

August 20, 2011 - 5:13pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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