• Exercise during hot weather
  • The Dog Days of summer are upon us. Exercise, always an effort, becomes more so as the temperature climbs. Even at 7 a.m. the heat and humidity may be too much to face, especially when you also have fatigue and shortness of breath to contend with. So, what should you do? Give up all activity until it cools down? Temptingg, perhaps, but not the best idea. May we offer a few suggestions?
  • If you do exercise outside, try to do so early in the morning or later in the evening. Wear sun block, a hat and sunglasses. Move slower than you usually do and be sure to drink some extra water to make up for the fluids you loose in perspiration. You live in the desert and never break a sweat? Maybe yes, but more likely not so! There is something called “insensible perspiration”, which is a fancy way of saying that your perspiration evaporates so quickly in the dry air that you are not aware of the fact that you are perspiring. You still need to replace lost fluids, though extra salt usually is not necessary, and can actually be harmful when you are not training for the NFL or a marathon!
  • If it is really hot outside it might be better to consider some cooler alternatives.
  • Malls vary in size but all have several things in common: interesting people to look at as you walk, level areas, and air conditioning. They also provide bathrooms, and places to sit. Suggest meeting at the mall to another friend or two. Make it a social event. You may not be able to talk while walking, but you can socialize later over a tall glass of iced tea.
  • Your local supermarket may be closer and more practical for that daily walk that many of you strive for. An additional benefit is having a grocery cart to lean on. For those who are very debilitated we especially recommend this form of exercise. Leaning on a cart provides support for your body and lessens the work of exercise and breathing by supporting your arms in a raised position. You can slowly walk the aisles for 20 or 30 minutes as you pick up an item or two to take home. If you are very debilitated, stopping often to look at something won't attract attention. Grocery stores also offer a level area to walk, air conditioning, bathrooms, and even a nice box boy to help you to the car should you need help.
  • Swimming pools are something that many of you have given up on. Let's face it; those of us old enough to have serious lung disease may not have the type of body seen in Playboy, or the energy to swim competitively. But, so what? You can still get out there and enjoy yourself. If you are afraid of sinking like a stone when you hit that water, we'll let you in on a secret. The worse your emphysema is, the more difficult it will be to sink. In fact, those of you who like to dive to the bottom of the pool may be frustrated because this is may no longer be possible. The air trapping in the lungs of those with emphysema acts like a little like a life preserver, helping to keep you afloat!
  • No one in your family has a pool? Check with your local Y, a nice safe environment. If you have a support group, try to make arrangements to reserve an outside lane for your group on a regular basis. Being on oxygen is no deterrent to swimming. Just get a 50-foot cannula, place it in the middle of outside lane, and paddle away!
  • The Health Center gym at your local hospital is worth investigating. These are preferable to the standard health clubs, which are geared to jocks, rather than to those who are more physically limited.
  • Community Colleges often have an exercise program for those with disabilities. These are usually geared for people with a stroke or arthritis rather than for those with pulmonary disease. It might be worth a call to see if you could join one. The slower pace required for arthritis also works for those with respiratory disease. Better yet, have them call Tom Storer, PhD about the terrific exercise program he has for pulmonary patients at El Camino Community College in Torrance, CA. (Phone (310) 660-3667 or e-mail tstorer@elcamino.cc.ca.us for information.) Who knows, you may be instrumental in starting a whole new program for pulmonary patients in your area!
  • For those of you too far from any of the above resources there is always your own home. If you don't have an exercise bike or treadmill, you can still walk around your house. Even if you just walk during the commercials of a few hours of TV, you can easily get in 1/2hour a day! Do you have any other suggestions you would like to pass on to our readers? We would love to hear them. Don't be beat by the heat!