Beat the Heat

The summer heat shouldn’t stop anyone with arthritis from getting a regular workout. But for many, heat, humidity and the distractions provided by backyard barbecues or weekend getaways can test your willpower when you're trying to stick to an exercise plan.

Remember, though, that inactivity can lead to a loss of strength, reduced flexibility and more pain. Exercise plays a critical role in treating arthritis symptoms and minimizing damage to the joints. The Arthritis Society offers the following tips for keeping your cool and working around Mother Nature:

• Go early or late.
 Exercise when it's coolest —early in the morning or late in the evening.

• Stay inside.
 You can be as physically active indoors as outdoors. If you find outside conditions too hot, try walking on a treadmill in the gym, swimming at a community pool, walking around a museum or stretching while watching TV.

• Hit the dirt (or grass).
 Pavement radiates heat, so walk in areas with dirt trails, lawns or similar surfaces.

• Dial down the intensity.
 During cardio activities, like walking, reduce your normal pace, ramping up the intensity with 30-second speed bursts every five or 10 minutes. This reduces stress on your heart, while maintaining your fitness level.

• Choose cool clothing.
 Try loose, light garments made of material that wicks moisture away from the skin (cotton, for instance).

• Stay well-hydrated.
 To avoid dehydration, drink enough fluids both before and after exercising. These fluids should supplement the eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day that experts recommend. When exercising, it's useful to have a bottle of water with you.

More information on living with arthritis is available online at www.arthritis.ca.