Surprisingly, as seniors grow older, they become more active, research from AARP shows. Over 30 percent of seniors over the age of 60 exercise every day. An increasing number of seniors participate in aerobically-intense indoor and outdoor activity. Basketball, volleyball and pickleball are a few sports on the rise in popularity among seniors.
Exercise is good for you, but at any age, exercising in the summer heat carries some health risks. If you plan on enjoying some extra physical activity this summer, here are some tips to ensure you stay safe.
Take Care of Your Skin
People of all ages should take care to protect their skin in the harsh summer sun; however, as a senior, you are especially susceptible to skin problems because your skin gets thinner as you get older. Minimize the time you spend in the sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense. Wear clothes and a hat that protect as much of your skin as possible, and use high-quality sunscreen to protect areas you can’t cover. If you’re sitting outside for a long period of time, make sure you choose a shaded spot such as under a patio umbrella or tree.
If you have dry skin, you may also need to apply moisturizer, especially when the air conditioner is running. Limit your time in chlorinated water to avoid skin irritation. If you’re in an area with mosquitoes, make sure to put on repellent.
Protect Your Eyes
Overexposure to sunlight harms your eyes by exposing you to excess UV radiation and other components of solar radiation. To provide full protection from the sun, choose sunglasses that screen out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Good sunglasses should also have lenses that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, match perfectly in color without distortion and are gray for proper color recognition.
Dehydration is another risk to avoid in summer weather. You are more vulnerable because aging reduces your ability to conserve water, your thirst sense is less refined and your body doesn’t respond to temperature changes as well. Be aware that you also can become dehydrated even when you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can lead to fainting, a weak pulse and low blood pressure. Make sure you drink water regularly, and drink sweat replacement products to replenish lost salt and potassium.
Avoid Heat Stroke
Dehydration can contribute to heat stroke, a serious and potentially deadly condition. Heat stroke occurs when your body’s core temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It often occurs as a progression from other heat-related conditions, such as heat cramps, fainting and heat exhaustion. Symptoms include a body temperature over 104 degrees, headache, nausea, vomiting, dry and flushed skin, not being able to sweat, heavy breathing and fainting. If you or a loved one has these symptoms, they should seek medical help, get out of the heat, lie down and have ice packs placed on their body.