Summer is a great time for seniors to get outdoors and be more active.
Summer months are great for increasing exercise and activity. Warm, dry weather tends to be gentler on bones and joints of seniors. Longer daylight makes it safer to enjoy outdoor activities. Many seniors enjoy walking and hiking, and the summer months are great for that. There are many outdoor games that can provide fun exercise for seniors: corn hole, horseshoes, ladder ball, croquet, and bocce ball are some of my favorites. Lakes and pools are more enjoyable when the weather is warm, and the water is not as cold.
Summer time pool exercise can provide excellent strengthening for seniors.
Exercising in the pool can be a great motivator for seniors. Fresh air and sunshine can have a positive mental effect. The buoyancy of the water may reduce pain and allow for a more strenuous workout. Pool exercise can bring a needed variety to an exercise routine, both mentally and physically challenging muscles in a new way.
Aside from swimming, pool exercise can involve walking forward and backwards, sidestepping along the edge, standing and kicking to the front, back, and side. You can exercise your arms using the buoyancy of the water, or pool weights for resistance. Keeping your core tight and using good controlled posture and form with all exercises can improve trunk strength as well.
Check out these 10 tips to stay safe with summer activities and exercise:
1 Pool Tips- you may be more tired than you realize after a pool workout. Plan ahead and have a chair close to the pool steps to rest afterwards. Use sunscreen, wear non slip shoes, and use caution on the rails/steps.
Check out these pool weights for resistance in the water: (affiliate link)
2 Time your activity according to the weather. Check the forecast for storms (rain clouds may increase joint pain) and heat waves can be dangerous. Consider going outdoors for activity or exercise in the morning or evening. Most health clinicians recommend avoiding the midday sun.
3 Hydration: minimize alcohol and caffeine, especially in the sun (coffee, tea, or soda). Hydrate with water through out the day, and have access to water during your activity.
Check out this water bottle with measurements for hydration goals: (affiliate link)
4 Check this link for ideas of foods with high water content: melon, lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers, and many more! (Healthline, 2020)
5 Plan ahead for rest breaks if you’re out walking or hiking. Know where shade, a bench, or place to rest is located so you can have quick access if needed.
6 Know the typical symptoms of overexertion: nausea, dizziness, pain, extreme fatigue. The heat can increase your susceptibility to overexertion. Gardening, hiking, and yard work in the heat without breaks can lead to serious illness if you are not careful. I had a patient in his 90’s who worked in his yard all day, to end up in the hospital very sick with rhabdomyolysis. (Sun Health Communities, 201
7 Know the typical symptoms of overheating: dizziness, confusion, severe headache, feeling faint, cramps, fatigue, clamminess are a few. If you have those symptoms stop your activity immediately. It is important to seek help if you think someone may have had a heat stroke. (Everyday Health, 2011) I had a patient who was enjoying sitting in the midday sun, and became so overheated without realizing it, when I arrived for my appointment she was becoming confused and nauseated.
8 Pay attention to your summertime equipment. Avoid low chairs, and sit in study chairs with armrests for improved safety. Wear a hat, and supportive shoes. Protect your eyes with good sunglasses.
9 Be aware of your medications and their side effects. Low sodium diets and certain medications my leave you more susceptible to over heating by reducing you natural water loss through sweating, or increasing your sensitivity to the sun.
10 Stay on top of your medical diagnoses as well. Know what and how your health issues (especially cardiac or kidney) may put you at risk regarding exercise and heat. Know and follow any restrictions to heart rate limit, or exertion, that your physician recommends. The heat can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
Check out this post for healthy travel tips!
If you want to help educate your family members or patients for improved outcomes, check out my PREMIUM RESOURCES page, with a new summer handout for logging your water intake!
I would love to hear what you think! What other tips do you have, or exercises do you do, to enjoy the summer months? Subscribe to my blog for weekly health care information and tips, and an occasional FREEBIE!