Though It's Summer, Outdoors Can Still Be Enjoyed
by Dr. Joel A. Bloom, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, The University of Houston Department
of Health & Human Performance
It is summertime in Houston, but that does not signal
the necessity to remain indoors. In fact, even though it
is hot and humid, with precautions, the outdoors, work
and exercise may be thouroughly enjoyed. "No one yet
has drowned in sweat!" This is a Bloomism which describes
the fact we must take into consideration that perspiration
is the human body's method of cooling the temperature of
its system. Besides, men sweat and women glisten!! The
cooling effect is enhanced by wearing loose fitting, light
or white colored clothing, preferably cotton. The exercise
clothing industry has created come wonderful new fabrics
for our area's humidity - cool max and dri-fit are just
two of the key labels to look for when shopping. I get
quite concerned when I see people going for the 'quick
fix' to get in-shape; especially for a special occasion
like a wedding, family event, the beach or a class reunion.
They hit the tracks and trails in sweat suits and worse,
sauna suits, in an effort to use our heat to slim down.
This is NOT the way to go!!! Remember, LL&C (loose,
light, cotton) and you are set.
Next is shoes appropriate for what you are doing. This
might be an expensive part of the regimen, but well worth
the investment. If a shoe does not keep you supported or
is not appropriate for your foot shape it will majorly
deter your goals. The choice must be lightweight, have
a solid arch and the lastly should be proportional to heel
and foot width. Nike, Puma, Adidas, Reebok and New Balance
each have shoes designed to enhance comfort and performance.
Avoid fashion statement shoes or flat ones with no solid
support. These will heat your feet and make for more discomfort.
WATER-WATER-WATER....DRINK-DRINK-DRINK..!! These reminders
cannot be overly emphasized. Even if thirst is not apparent,
the body is exuding more fluids than we think. The cooling
process is constant and so we must fuel the 'air conditioner'.
Just like a sound and healthy diet plan, 8 to 10 - 10 ounce
glasses of water daily are necessary to hydrate during
the summer months. If working or exercising outdoors, drink
two full glasses before going outside. Drink some more
during the activity and be sure to drink two more after
you have finished. In addition to preventing dehydration,
headaches and stomach problems may also be avoided. Cooling
the head with water and a light hat or cap is helpful.
A great idea for consistant cooling is the cool-pack bandana.
These are available at local sporting good stores and are
filled with a chemical which swells when wet and is chilled
in the refrigerator. Wrapped around the forehead or the
neck the body stays even cooler for about an hour at a
Work or workout as early or as late in the day as possible.
Breezes seem to like these times of our days and the sun
is just waking up or going to sleep. Don't be a hero! If
the regimen calls for a one, two or three mile jog or walk;pace
the distance;do not murder it! There will be plenty of
other days when the time trial may be attempted. Set realistic
work goals in the yard or around the house. Start early
and you will be surprised what can be accomplished before
the heat gets you fatigued. These clues are for the golf
course too! Play nine at a time. When the weather cools
or you have acclimatized using the above hints, go for
18, the completed run, the long shopping trip or the big
Ladies, an added tip for our bright sun. Scarlett O'hara
used her parasol to flirt, but its true reason was to protect
her from the sun. Our southern women have used the parasol
for eons as an SPF, but the ol' umbrella will also protect
from the UV rays, protect the hair and keep the head cool.
Don't be afraid to begin that walking program for your
figure. Achieve short distances at first and then build
to that mile walk. Water is great for the complexion and
with sunscreen is a dynamic duo.
Use the clues, LL&C, water..water..drink..drink, cool
the head and protect it. Follow the early or late sun and
pace the body's efforts. Nutrition is important too! Eat
cold, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Avoid overeating
at BBQ's and picnics, especially fired or other heavy foods.
This is a great time of the year to get in shape, enjoy
the outdoors and keep a positive attitude about the Houston
Joel Bloom is an Associate Professor for the Department
of Health & Human Performance
at The University of Houston. His teaching areas include
Kinesiology, Sports Therapy, Athletic
Injuries, Facilities Planning and Aquatics. He is also
co-owner of Cyclistics, a company specializing
in Indoor Cycling Certification Programs and continuing
education for fitness professionals. Dr. Bloom
can be reached in Houston at 713-743-9847 or e-mail him
View Dr. Bloom's Bio