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Exercising Safely

How the heat can interfere with your health

Exercising SafelySince August is nationally recognized as Safety Awareness Month, this time of year is a good reminder for us all to perform our workouts safely.  Why should Safety Month include exercise protocols?  Because of the extreme heat and humidity that we face here in Florida.

How can the weather affect your overall health?  Our bodies try to self-regulate temperature in two ways; the first is by sweating and the second is by radiating body heat into the air, but if the air is hotter than our body’s temperature, then the radiating heat returns right back to us, making us even hotter.  Another important factor that is often overlooked is that while our bodies try to sweat to cool our skin down if the air is humid, the process becomes just a feeble attempt, as it will not cool our temperature down.

The biggest threat when trying to exercise in warm weather is the increased risk factor of having a heat stroke.

Heatstroke symptoms:
• Increased heart rate
• Dizziness
• Fainting
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Heart palpitations
• Muscle cramping
• Nausea
• Edema or swelling limbs
• Unconsciousness
• Death

Did you read the last symptom?  Heatstroke can actually lead to death.  It’s imperative for everyone, no matter the age or general health of the individual to take practical steps during the summer to stay safe when exercising.  Exercising in a pool of water can be beneficial beyond just staying cool, but it definitely helps to alleviate the chances of heatstroke.  That’s why one of the best alternatives for individuals needing rehabilitative exercising, is to utilize aquatic therapy with a professional physical therapist.

In addition, working out in a temperature-regulated pool with a professional is critical for anyone that has heart disease or other vascular disorders.  In recent years there has been a multitude of studies on the effectiveness of aquatic therapy and the heart.  As it turns out, aquatic therapy is not only easier on the joints and bones, but it’s easier on the heart and vital for getting a healthy, safe, cardiovascular workout.

The resistance of the water against the body increases cardiovascular circulation.  Not only is aquatic therapy easy on the joints and muscles, but also the buoyancy allows individuals to exercise for longer periods of time, with more intensity than that of land-based physical therapy, especially in the heat.

Anyone with heart issues will be better suited to walk on an underwater treadmill, because most likely they will experience a more pleasant workout in the water with little to no pain as opposed to on land.   They also would be able to walk farther, and the hydrostatic pressure of the water is proven to assist with edema, which is critical for healing and cardiovascular health.

There have been significant studies on the benefits of aquatic therapy for individuals that suffer from cardiac diseases and disorders.  These cases have proven that the level of oxygen in the blood increases in water, which is ideal for most vascular issues.  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, but doing a lot of running and legwork on land increases the heart rate at a greater level than with water-based therapy.  For obvious reasons, maintaining a lower heart rate is ideal for those suffering from any heart ailments, and staying cool, while working out is critical for patients with heart disorders, due to the heat’s likelihood of causing cardiac palpitations and other vascular issues.

For anyone wanting to exercise more safely this summer, doing so in a pool is beneficial for multiple reasons and again for those with heart disease, it’s imperative.

To find our more about how aquatic therapy can help you, please visit,, or call Freedom Rehab at 941-400-1505.

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