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Even 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 time.

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 home project.

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 summertime. Enjoy!

Dr. 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 at jbloom@uh.edu.

View Dr. Bloom's Bio




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

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Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
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Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
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