Summer in Florida can be somewhat unbearable with temperatures in the upper 90s to triple digits. And on top of the hot temperature, the humidity makes it feel much warmer than it actually is. This mix can be dangerous if you are not taking the proper precautions to stay cool.
How our Bodies Regulate Temperature
Our bodies self-regulate heat by sweating and also through radiating heat back into the atmosphere. When our bodies are hot, the skin radiates heat into the air to normalize our body temperature. However, when the air is sweltering, our bodies can no longer reduce its high temperature this way, as it has nowhere to radiate the heat into or take in cooler air from, as the temperature is higher/hotter than it is the bodies.
When this happens, we need to seek shade or preferably an air-conditioned area to cool down our internal and external temperatures. Drinking cool/cold water is also critical.
The Dangers of Not Cooling our Temperature Down
Sweating can quickly escalate into dehydration; therefore, it’s critical to stay hydrated with cold water, not sugary drinks. If we become dehydrated, we increase our risk of raising blood pressure and having heart palpitations.
Warm weather makes the heart pump faster, which requires more oxygen. When it’s hot, and we can’t cool down, or breathe efficiently, we complicate the heart’s normal functioning, by putting undue stress on its muscle contractions.
When we sweat, we also perspire potassium and sodium. Both of these minerals help to control nerve function, water balance, and heart rhythm. The loss of these minerals can be detrimental to your cardiac health if you suffer from any heart conditions.
Syncope is a fancy medical term for fainting. Syncope can occur due to many different complications but is commonly seen due to heat exhaustion. What happens is, the body’s oxygen and blood are not able to adequately reach the brain, usually due to a drastic rise in blood pressure, which creates a pooling of blood into the lower extremities. Syncope causes collapsing and fainting. If the person is not put in a reclined position with the feet elevated, they could potentially suffer additional complications, including a seizure. Syncope can quickly escalate into a dangerous outcome for many individuals. If you have any heart irregularities, you may be more susceptible to these types of fainting spells.
Because of the dangers of heat on the body, it’s imperative NOT to exercise outdoors when it’s hot. If you need to get in a workout, try one indoors at the gym or at home. YouTube offers a wide array of free exercise classes online, or you can swim if you have access to a pool.
Water-Based Exercise Increases Oxygen & Keep You Cool
There have been significant studies on the benefits of water activities for individuals that suffer from cardiac diseases, arthritis, or balance issues. The level of oxygen in the blood increases with water aerobics, which is ideal for everyone, especially those with vascular problems. The oxygen consumption (VO2) is three times greater in water than on land. Working large muscle groups leads to this uptake of oxygen or VO2. Doing the same level of exercise on land increases the heart rate at a much higher level than with water-based therapy and can be dangerous for some individuals. For obvious reasons, maintaining a lower heart rate is ideal for those suffering from any heart ailments.
Exercise improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, helps elevate mood, increases stability, protects (and regenerates) bone health, raises HDL, lowers LDL cholesterol levels, burns body fat, increases muscle strength, and much more.
Heat Disorders Must be Treated Promptly
Heat Disorder Symptoms can include muscle cramping, heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s imperative to get to a cool place, drink cold water and call 911 if symptoms persist.
Tips to stay cool and avoid heat-related issues
• Drink extra water
• Talk to your physician about reducing your diuretic pills
• DO NOT exercise in the heat
• Avoid the hottest times of the day (10:00 am to 4:00 pm)
• Eat plenty of cooling foods like vegetables and fruit
• Stay in an air-conditioned room
• Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks
If you have any underlying heart disorders, you should talk to your cardiologist about specific ways to exercise and stay cool that will not interfere with your fluid and sodium intake issues.
The Healing Powers of Socialization
Isolation and loneliness are seriously detrimental to seniors’ mental and physical health. The fact is we’re all social creatures, and that’s why, amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Aston Gardens has been using digital technology and applications offering video chatting capabilities to bring resident seniors and their families that much closer, even as COVID-19 keeps us all apart.
By facilitating video chats for residents on their personal devices, or doing so using the community’s own tablets, residents and families have been staying connected through frequent (virtual) interaction. “We’ve been using applications including FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger video calls to enable residents to stay in touch with their loved ones,” said Director of Celebrations Gail Pettway-King, who oversees the program. “Our ‘Assisted Video Chatting Sessions’ bring a layer of excitement and anticipation to our residents’ days and have proven uplifting and beneficial for their state of mind in these challenging times.”
King explained how residents love the opportunity to see and speak with family—especially grandchildren—while families appreciate the firsthand ability to ensure their loved ones’ safety and well-being on a regular basis, just like they did before COVID-19. She said it’s a central part of the community’s more comprehensive efforts to support residents’ all-around health and happiness in what are new and unprecedented circumstances.
Indeed, times may change, and for seniors especially, regular human interaction is a critical line of defense against the adverse effects of isolation and loneliness. Especially right now, all of us should be taking steps to protect our physical and mental health, and for Aston Gardens’ resident seniors, maintaining regular contact and socialization has probably never been more important than it is today.
To find out more about Aston Gardens please visit their website at AstonGardens.com, or call 813-448-3160.