CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
I don't know if it is my age or simply the heat, but I can't seem to exercise like I once was able to. I'm a walker and a tennis player and love to be outside, but I've had to stop the past two times out because I was feeling exhausted. -- Renee
It's official. Summertime is here and it's hotter than the Fourth of July. We're eager to burst through the walls that surround our workouts and get reacquainted with fresh air and natural settings. The sunshine puts smiles on our faces and sweat on our brow as we take our favorite activities outside. However, this time of year can actually drive people inside where the atmosphere is a more predictable.
But don't throw in the towel just yet. Instead, carry it with you and give yourself time to adapt. You can prepare to handle the heat and humidity that accompanies this beautiful season. Sure, we can't control nature's thermostat, but we can make sure our own is in good working order.
As we age, it takes a little longer for our body to adapt to hot temperatures. Gradually introducing muggy workout conditions requires time, patience and a healthy respect for the sun -- particularly how dramatically it can impact your activity and your health.
Many factors affect your ability to work and to play outside: age, temperature, humidity, exercise intensity, hydration, diet and time of day. Simply sitting in the heat can be a challenge for some. For instance, a 90-degree day with 80 percent humidity feels like 113 degrees. Obviously, this is not an ideal environment to play tennis if you normally play on an air-conditioned court. The same is true for walking. The process of heat acclimation -- getting accustomed to the outside temperatures -- is a must to exercise safely and to prevent heat illness.