May 14 2012
The summer is a great season for getting in shape. Whether by playing a sport, doing an aerobic exercise routine, or just returning to that familiar running path — this is the time for activity.
Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "Exercise is the fountain of youth, and summer is the perfect time to reconnect with your body."
However, exercise must be approached one step at a time, and not simply in short bursts or over weekends.
"Exercise is the key to a long and healthy life," says Dr. Maryjane Farr, heart failure and transplant cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. "Regular exercise decreases high blood pressure, lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the protective cholesterol (HDL). Whether by playing a sport, doing an aerobic exercise routine or just getting out there and walking, any form of exercise substantially reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease."
Dr. Andersen and Dr. Farr offer the following tips to those looking to resume or begin a workout routine this summer:
•Talk to your doctor. Consult your physician before beginning or changing your exercise regimen. Your doctor may want to first perform an exercise test to prescribe a program that is safe for you.
•Take your workout indoors. When it is too hot or humid outside, exercise in a cool, air-conditioned space. Extreme temperatures can alter your circulation, increasing the work of your heart and making breathing more difficult.
•Remember to stretch. Even in the summertime, our bodies need to warm up. As you are exercising, take time to work on breathing and posture — improving these will greatly enhance your health.
•Drink plenty of fluids. Throughout your workout routine it is important to drink plenty of water, even before you feel thirsty. If you are prone to lightheadedness (from low blood pressure), an endurance athlete, or over age 75, you should replenish your "electrolytes" as well — having a little salt can be important for you.
•Try to maintain an even body temperature. After your workout you should not take an extremely hot or cold shower or a sauna, as these can increase the workload on your heart.
•Workout during the cooler hours. If you truly enjoy exercising outdoors, take advantage of the coolest times of day — the early morning and evening hours.
•Wear sunscreen. If you have a sunburn, it will decrease your body's ability to cool itself off. Always remember to apply sunscreen to your entire body every morning.
•Take it slow. Start your exercise regimen slowly and pace yourself throughout the workout, including plenty of time for breaks and to drink fluids.
•Have fun. Taking time to exercise is taking time for you. Enjoy it — smile, breathe deeply and clear your mind. Exercising to music is mood and energy enhancing, but if you are outside wearing headphones, PAY ATTENTION!