One of the few silver linings of this pandemic was that it made walking cool again. Power walking was no longer just for the neighborhood grandparents; it was THE way to get cardio and regain our sanity. And surprisingly, lean out! I could not believe what a huge difference walking made in my ability to feel less stress. Within 6 months, I had lost 7 pounds WITHOUT the gym. Walking is an incredible exercise for even strengthening all those little joints and ligaments that you may not even be aware of and how all of the muscles of your body are truly working in unison to move your body through space—- and it is low impact, low equipment, and free!
This year, at least on the East Coast, the summer seems even hotter. Those mid-morning or mid -afternoon walks are hardly tempting while I am sitting in the cool AC. And the East Coast is hardly special – recently temps in Seattle shot up to 106 degrees, Texas was ridiculously hot, California had its fair share of heat and fires, not to mention uncharacteristic rain. This week, the smoke from the firs in California plumed all the way to New York, Philadelphia and Toronto. That race to 1.5 degrees celsius could not be run fast enough.
So while we are waiting for the earth to cool down, how can we get more steps:
Make the early morning your friend
Jump out of bed and take your coffee to go while you walk early in the morning. Grab the pooch or make it a family affair. It’s so easy to get lost into chores, work, or getting ready that you will lose that window to get your blood flowing while the weather is still cool outside.
Or be a night crawler
An early evening walk can be a surprisingly easy way to unwind and digest your food. I always notice that when I am on vacation and a walk is usually needed to get back to the hotel, I feel so much better going to sleeep after I have had a chance to digest a meal.
Coping better with the heat tips and tricks
I am a veteran walker in hot weather – as someone who used to walk every day back and forth from downtown DC in all kinds of weather, I know how to deal with the elements. Here are some key tips:
- Have iced water in a thermodynamic bottle (I like Yeti) so that cools you down as you walk. Or invest in some low cal natural fruit ice pops, like this watermelon one from Good Pop – they also have a healthy Rocket pop, which back in the day was what totally made me chase the ice cream truck all the way down the street. In general, have water on hand or near-by always. The East Coast humidity makes it feel even hotter out, dehydrating you even more quickly.
- Wear light, sweat-wicking clothing. More on that in a minute.
- For the ladies, wear the right makeup. Stick with tinted moisturizer (I like this one from GLO skin beauty) and a non-smear mascara like Covergirl Active lash blast – this is incidentally one of my favorite mascaras even for not working out because it DOESN’T BUDGE and it makes my eyelashes look even better than the more expensive brands – and I have tried them ALL.
- Find and follow the shade – on my walks, I became an expert on exactly which sides of the street had shade at which times. I could pretty much assure that I was in the shade 95% of the time – and that makes a HUGE difference.
- Wear a light hat with a wide brim – I have a white stretchy hat I wear for my walks in hotter weather (I like this one from equinox). A hat keeps you cool, looks cool, and also helps aim to protect you in developing melanoma growths onto it.
How to get more steps inside
So one obvious coping mechanism is getting your steps in the nice AC. Here are my tips and tricks:
- Pace. You do remember the headline about someone running a marathon in their living room, right? Well you don’t have to do that, but you can definitely pace around while on the phone, or even just taking a break from sitting.
- Get a standing desk – standing primes you to be more active and get more steps, and burns more calories than sitting
- Hit the treadmill and queue up your podcasts / youtube playlist (including the DAOFitLife)! It is amazing for me how time can so quickly go by when I listen to podcast or watch a YouTube video. With a treadmill, I also don’t have to worry about being distracted by the volume and in danger of being in a pedestrian accident. Now that I am back in the gym, I use the treadmill there, but I definitely understand that many of you may prefer home workouts. With that there are so many treadmill options available, including some good floor treadmill options that don’t take up a lot of space. There are also a lot of treadmills that are foldable and ergonomic and they are actually suited better for walking versus running.
- Do other machines, like the elliptical, have the same effect? Whatever kind of cardio you do is up to you, as long as you can stick to it and be consistent, then that is great. You don’t have to walk or run if you hate doing it. The only caution I would have with ellipticals or bikes is that it can be easy to really languish and go so slowly that it’s not even a very beneficial form of working out. In that case I would recommend at least part of your workout be interval based (like you push for 30 seconds, rest for 30). It doesn’t have to be all out but I would try to increase the RPM by at least 20. With treadmill walking, the advantage is you can also see your pace and therefore track your fitness. I used to find it challenging to walk at 3.6 , but now I can increase my base pace to 4.1 or 4.2 and feel great.
- Go to the mall, or Target, or Wal-Mart, or whatever big box A/C store you can find and walk to your heart’s content in a nice and cool atmosphere. I have been known to pace up and down the aisles of CVS to get my steps. It’s a good way to combine and knock out errands with steps! Back in the day, my mom and her friends used to go to the mall before most of the stores opened so they could have free reign to roam around and get a couple of miles in, and then be the first people at whatever store or coffee place opened so they would not have to wait. Old school can be BRILL.
- Keeping a goal of trying to discover something new is a great, inadvertent way to get steps in- you may be surprised upon what you discover and what will inspire you next. This is a small tactic to potentially keep your mind off of ever associating exercise as a ‘chore.’
Other things you can do hygienically to avoid overheating and excess sweating
- Instead of soap-based products, which can dry out your skin and thus make you sweat more to overcompensate, try using emollient based bodywashes that help lock-in hydration like NIVEA emollient body washes
- Also, make sure your underarm stick is an ANTIPERSPIRANT, not just a deodorant – it’s easy for the two to get mixed up. Deodorant just hides the smell, so without an element to block the scent you might as well .
- Certain materials inside clothing including shoes and socks can also increase the likelihood of sweating.
- ‘Avoid man-made synthetics and try buying clothes made from natural fibres like linen, cotton and silk – these will help your skin to breathe. Loose fitting clothes in black or white will also help to minimise signs of sweat. For some suggestions, see also this slideshow from Popsugar that has some sweat-wicking-friendly options from Lululemon.
Don’t obsess over the number of steps
You may have noticed I didn’t mention a fitbit or other type of tracker. Despite my efforts to purchase these and track steps, I find that this is not healthy for me because I fixate on a number and then have a moving target in terms of getting 10,000 steps, and then 12,000, and then 15,000 etc I believe if I have walked or done some type of cardio for at least 45 minutes a day and nourished myself, I don’t need validation from a device. Definitely wear one if that helps you , but also don’t feel pressured to reach a certain number per day. Every day is different, and you will be more active some days than others. The key is to move your body and find joy in that.
10 hot weather hacks to keep you walking all summer long (MyFitnessPal Blog)