Summertime can be filled with the fun of the outdoors, and being active after a long winter inside. But it can also be a dreaded time; . . . full of sweat, exhaustion, and even staying inside just like winter. But what can you do if it is simply too darn hot outside? The growth of air-conditioning, TV and streaming entertainment, weight gain and health problems thrive in the dog days of summer. Why not take advantage of the heat, for your health’s improvement.
Don’t let it deter you. In fact, with the right precautions and preparation, walking in the heat can actually be a benefit, through more body fat burn, and sweating.Just like Hot Yoga, Hot Walking is fast becoming the next trend in fitness. It can also help you build up heat adaptation, and preparation for tougher workouts (like climbing mountains and achieving long hikes). And it requires little more than heat, and some simple precautions and steps. How can you find ways for healthy exercise and walking? Below are five suggestions that will get you on the right foot this summer:
- Water, Water, Water: Bring Water on your walks
This may sound cliche but water not only is important for keeping your body hydrated during hot weather, but it can also help you walk further, faster and safer. By carrying water with you along the journey, you don’t have to worry about turning around too early. You can get a full workout from any walk or hike in the heat. Consider taking a water bottle shoulder harness. These pouches allow you to keep water at your side, without the annoyance of carrying it in your sweaty tired hands. And you can adjust the position of the bottle on either side, as well as your back or front. Some harnesses also have pockets to carry other essentials out of your pocket, so you can have more freedom and flexibility with your walking stride.
Some people ask about other fluids, like electrolyte drinks. These are good as well, as long as the sugar content is not so high to reverse the benefits of the calorie burn. Stay away from sodas. Drinks like pedialyte and Gatorade are good, but consider watering them down so there is more water content.
And when it comes to food, not too much. Too many high-carb snacks and trail mixes will make your body feel fatigued from having to divert oxygen and energy to digestion. Use that energy instead for fat and calorie burn.
- Bring walking support
Heat can make the average walk extra exhausting and tiring. Walking support aids, such as walking poles for travel and trekking poles provide that extra help for your body along the way. Walking poles not only provide back support, but also help distribute the weight and impact from each step in your stride to added points of contact through your arms. Walking poles build your upper-body strength as well as build arm muscles. These poles can also increase the calorie burn rate of your walking, without feeling it. Because they lead to a greater range of motion in your upper body; . . . more muscles moving.
When it gets hot, you need support for rest and leaning, as well as steps, inclines and downgrades. Walking poles will help make heat wave walking easier. By relieving the pressure and weight off of your knees and ankles, walking aids like these can make hot walking more enjoyable, while less recovery time and pain. Plus you’ll benefit from a wider or more controllable stride during your walk.
- Limit the length of your walks in the heat
Walking in the heat has similar benefits to Hot Yoga. This includes sweating out impurities, and placing a healthy stresser on your body, for a full workout experience. But it has to be done right, or else it can potentially be dangerous. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, hikes in the heat need to be limited in length. We recommend no more than 30 minute in temperatures above 95 degrees. This is about 1-mile with average walking speed. Pick local parks, city streets, parkways, paths and trails that you can easily make a 1-mile hot walking workout. With high humidity, you will quickly notice the sweat just a couple of minutes into the walk. In low-humidity (dry/arid/desert locations) you may not sweat so quickly, but it is so essential to keep drinking water during the walk, even if you don’t “feel thirsty”. Be aware of warning signs of heat stroke and heart conditions.
- Shade your body with the right clothing for hot walking
Between light colored clothing, cooling arm sleeves, and soft cotton and wicking clothing, you can be protected from the sun and actually keep the right coolness near your body. Remember, the goal is not to overheat, but simply to sweat more while burning calories. Prepare two sets of these clothes, so you can wash them often between walks.
You will still sweat, but the special clothing will help disperse the sweat into more evenly distributed evaporation. So you’ll actually be sweating heavily, but not feeling it so much. And it can reduce the amount of sunscreen you need to apply. Clothes designed for hot yoga, as well as running clothes are excellent for this.
- Protect your head during walking in the heat
The harmful and annoying direct heat from the sun can make hot walking uncomfortable and unbearable. By shading your head, either with sun hats, neck flap caps or other large hats like wide-brimmed hats, you’ll make walking simply easier. History of people groups that live in hot deserts, like nomadic Arabs, and cowboys in the southwest, that shade of the head can make a miserable walk, into an achievable and even enjoyable experience. In addition, sunscreen on the face as well as sunglasses, all work together to keep your head (the hot part of your body) from growing uncomfortable and overheating. You can easily walk in 100+ degree temperatures, with the right kind of head protection, and not notice it.
With the right preparation, heat can be an advantage, making your summer walks a powerful and effective workout method for long-term endurance and strength. And in the winter?. . . that’s what “sweats” were made for.
About the author: Mike Cutler writes on active senior lifestyles and is a healthy lifestyle Blogger as well as product tester for earth trek gear. He lives with his family in Reno NV and enjoys going to the Sierra Nevada mountains for hiking and family activities.