Friday, August 2, 2013

Hot Walking Tips (Mostly Common Sense)


I am just back from walking the Junkyard Dawg with the heat index at 93 degrees. So my thoughts turned to...does Hooters deliver cold beer on days like this? No, actually I wondered about hot-weather walking tips for people with assorted health conditions -- or for walkers in general.

In a search, I found this piece I wrote back in my first summer of blogging. I drew on three good sources of information, but I suspect 98 percent of this is just plain country common sense. But then again, how much common sense do you see practiced in our topsy-turvy world? I am thinking of you -- bicyclists who stare into their smartphones while cycling!

Okay, no research grants went into this compilation of mostly common-sense tips for hot-weather walking. See if you can find a few you hadn't thought of.

Happy trails!

                                           © Robert Gray Holland (2018)

What follows is my blogpost from the summer of '13:

If you google tips for walking in hot weather, you will find a boatload. Today, I picked three: the Mayo Clinic, Prevention magazine, and the Texas Heart Institute.

Some of these are just common sense; however, there's not as much of that kind of sense going around nowadays, so there may be value in stating the obvious. Some of the advice may not be quite so obvious.

Let's hit the highlights of these three sources:

Mayo Clinic:

Watch the temperature. (Become a fan of weather forecasts; heed the alerts.) (Okay, I know, DUH! -- right?)

Get acclimated.

Know your fitness level.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Dress appropriately.  (That means wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that helps sweat evaporate; avoid dark colors, which absorb heat. Maybe even wear a hat.)

Avoid midday sun.

Wear sunscreen.

Have a backup plan. (If it's too darned hot, resort to a workout room, mallwalking, or climbing stairs in an air-conditioned building -- which doesn't sound like a lot of fun!)

Understand your medical risks.

Texas Heart Institute

In addition to drinking sufficient water (staying hydrated), the Institute offers these pointers:

Wear loose-fitting clothing.

Avoid direct exposure to the sun.

Do not take salt tablets. (They make dehydration worse by draining water from your body.)

Drink cool water instead of cold water; the body absorbs cool water faster.

Do not drink juices or sodas during exercise, because they contain more than 10 percent carbohydrate and are not absorbed well during exercise.

In addition, for heart-failure patients, elderly people, or chronically ill patients:

Move indoors to cool, air-conditioned spaces to do your exercise.

Do not ride or sit in a car that does not have air conditioning.

Keep a good fan available at home.

Be cautious and take frequent cooling breaks if you must be outside.


Start slowly.

Be an early bird or a night owl.

Protect your skin.

Choose appropriate workout clothes. (In addition to the Mayo hints above, some companies are creating clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor to block harmful UV-rays.)

Get fitness framed. (Get you some sporty, reliable sunglasses.)

Ice your thirst. Freeze a half-full water bottle and fill it before you head out. Sip regularly. (Does that contradict the advice above to drink cool water instead of cold water?)

Sip sports drinks. (I would check the sugar content before doing that.)

Switch your shoes. Use lightweight, ventilated walking shoes and socks that wick away sweat.

Reduce friction. Wear performance underwear (no kidding!). Choose sweat-wicking fabrics over cotton, which contributes to chafing.

Seek out shade.

Check your heart rate. It is a good idea to wear a heart-rate monitor. Hot temperatures can seriously stress the body, elevating heart rates.

Listen to your body. (It may be telling you to stop and lie down and listen to soothing music the rest of the day.)

In summary, wearing loose-fitting clothing and avoiding a scorching sun overhead seem to be among the common pointers. I don't pay that much attention to my wardrobe -- usually just shorts and a t-shirt, but I sure do look for shady walking spots. The sidewalks outside our home have no shade at all for 3 or 4 blocks, so on a hot summer's morning, I coax Superdawg (now The Junkyard Dawg, SD's  successor) into the backseat of the car and we drive to a shady walking area near the recreation center for our walk.

It is a good idea to embrace the obvious and take precautions when walking in the good ol' summertime.

                    © Robert G. Holland  2013

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