- Realize that you are not going to set any records in the heat. If you typically run a 9 minute mile with ease, don't be surprised when it feels nearly impossible on a hot day. Slow down. Respect that your body has a tremendous responsibility to regulate its temperature - your brain doesn't function at 105 degrees!
- Avoid exercising when the sun is higher in the sky, between 10am and 4pm.
- Wear synthetic clothing that wicks away sweat. Remember, sweat has to evaporate off of the body in order to cool it. Cotton clothing will soak up sweat and cling to you, leaving no room for this process.
- Wear light-colored clothing. White = good. Black and navy = bad.
- Stay hydrated. Plan your route around water fountains or carry a water bottle.
- Try to stay in shady areas.
- Don't be afraid to take breaks!
Friday, June 20, 2008
The short-lived season Philadelphians call "Spring" appears to be over. Tomorrow, it's official: summer, with its stagnant humidity and oppressive heat, is here to stay. The high temperatures will certainly have an effect on your body - and will probably slow you down, but they don't have to stop you from exercising outside altogether. Understanding the physiological changes your body undergoes when working out in the heat can help you make smarter and safer decisions about continuing to do it.
When its ultra hot, your body's main concern is cooling itself down, which is does through perspiring. As sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools the body. (Think of the way rubbing alcohol feels cold on the skin as it quickly vaporizes.) Sweat's downside is that it reduces overall blood volume, forcing your heart to pick up its pace in order to do the same amount of work. On a hot day, you might feel your heart rate sky-rocketing for a task that normally feels easy.
A second method of regulating body temperature lies in blood redistribution. Your body directs more blood to the skin to dissipate heat (this is why your face gets so red), therefore less is available to the working muscles/organs. Reduced blood flow to exercising muscles is another reason why your normal workout intensity may feel compromised.
That's the nerdy scientific background on exercising in the heat - even Temple couldn't take the geek out me - but here is a user-friendly and practical checklist for how to handle these effects:
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Ok, ok...I know I'm getting a little carried away here with this whole no-gym-needed concept, but rest assured, I am not suggesting that you do 3 sets of 12 deadlifts with your window unit. It occurred to me though, hauling the A/C upstairs this morning, that it would be pretty easy to injure yourself lifting one of these monsters improperly - or not being strong enough to lift one in the first place.
So, if you know this job would be better left to someone a little bit burlier, invite said friend over and offer him/her a cocktail in exchange for the lifting and installation. If you are going about this yourself, keep a few things in mind for your own safety:
- Clear the path from the A/C to the window before you pick up the unit.
- Squat down to pick up the A/C, keeping your back flat.
- Come to a stand the same way you squatted down, with a flat back.
- As you come to a stand, keep your abdomen very tight to stabilize your spine.
- Lift with your legs, not your back. The joint angle will change at your knees and hips, but your spine should stay extended throughout the movement.
- Make sure you have someone to help you secure the A/C within the window.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Several of my clients have mentioned to me that they either skip breakfast, skimp on it, or eat something that more closely resembles dessert (fyi, you put icing on a muffin and it becomes a cupcake). In each case, it seems that they are not eating enough food to supply adequate energy to the body until lunch time. If you are starving at your desk by 10AM, it's a good sign that you need to reconsider the morning oatmeal packet as a wholesome meal. Here are the main problems I see with what people are eating for breakfast:
- Not eating enough food. A single packet of flavored Quaker Oatmeal has about 140 calories. If you are someone who should be eating 1800 or so calories per day, you're not even eating 10% of the calories you need.
- Lack of Fruits and Vegetables. It is actually possible to diversify your breakfast fruit menu beyond bananas. I promise.
- Not enough fat/protein. Fat and protein take longer to digest than carbohydrates (especially simple carbohydrates) so they keep you feeling full longer.
To address these problems, here are three simple breakfast ideas. Bear in mind here, I am not a nutritionist. I'd be ok with swallowing any of this advice should a more qualified professional challenge any of it. But most of what I'm offering is pretty practical and widely available information.
- As pictured, half a bagel (or a slice of toast) with peanut butter and a handful of strawberries. You could substitute any piece of fruit but berries are coming into season:) If you are a more active person, the whole bagel might be more appropriate.
- A 2-egg omelette with spinach and a sprinkle of cheddar, and a piece of toast. Again, you could substitute a different vegetable in the omelette like peppers.
- A smoothie with vanilla yogurt, orange juice and berries/banana. Toss all the ingredients in a blender and pour this in your own to-go cup. I would recommend using a yogurt that is NOT fat-free because this breakfast has no other fat source. Many will contest this I'm sure, but again, you want something that will keep you feeling full until lunch.