July 13, 2011 -- When the heat is stifling and the humidity puts the wet blanket on your desire to walk, by all means don't quit. Take to an indoor track, a mall, or treadmill. Or walk in a pool if you have access to one. Exercising in water provides 12 times more resistance than exercising on land!
Here are more strategies for beating the heat while walking in the summer:
Be an Early Bird or a Night Owl
Plan to walk in the early morning or early evening to avoid the steamiest part of the day--usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Seek Out Shade
Direct sun can make the temperature feel up to 15 degrees hotter! Check your area to see if there are parks with trails through the trees.
Expose Your Skin
Sweat can evaporate more easily from bare arms and legs. (Wear plenty of sunscreen, even under your shirt.)
Just Add Water
Wet your shirt, and you'll have on-the-spot air-conditioning!
Ice Your Thirst
Freeze a half-full water bottle, then top it off as you head out. Take sips regularly while you're walking. Six to eight ounces of water every 15 minutes should be enough. As an extra precaution against dehydration, weigh yourself before your walk and again afterward. If you've dropped a pound or two, drink up. You've lost fluid that is important to your body's cooling system.
Try Sports Drinks
If you just can't get yourself to drink more water on your summer jaunts, then why not try a sports drink? They taste good and supply less than half the calories of fruit juices. They're absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, so you can walk farther and avoid post-exercise fatigue. If you don't like the taste of a sports drink, you can also diluter your favorite fruit juice with water and take it along with you.
Flavored waters are a great way to meet your hydration needs, but some have as much sugar as a can of soda.
Cover Your Head Wear a breathable hat (not a visor--it will only protect your face, not your head), and wet that too.
For warm-weather workouts, you need lightweight, ventilated walking shoes and socks that wick away sweat. Mesh is cooler than leather and dries faster when your feet sweat. Or try a walking sandal. You might also get an extra pair of shoes and alternate between them every day so that each pair has a chance to dry out completely. This helps you avoid fungi, blisters--and smelly feet.
Be aware of areas where skin rubs against skin--between your toes, thighs, and under your arms--and apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or use Runner's Lube, a nonstaining cream made from lanolin, zinc oxide, and benzocaine. It can be found in many sporting goods stores.
Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you when you can push yourself, and when it's time to coast. If you develop a headache or become dizzy or weak, stop exercising and head for a cool place. Drink plenty of cool fluids, and rest.
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