Have You Had Your Walk Today?
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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Do You Don't Have To Exercise Naked To Stay Cool In Summer

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.


Each year as the weather warms up, the Lake Como Club near Lutz, Florida hosts the Dare to Go Bare 5K Run and 3K Walk.  Yes, it is what you’re thinking - the runners and walkers race in the nude.  About 300 people participate, wearing little more than a smile and extra sunscreen.  Shoes, socks, and visors are also permitted.

Running and walking “au natural” is one way to stay cool as the mercury rises this summer. Yet, with the new technical fabrics that are available, you can stay cool, comfortable, and be modest as well.  Furthermore, what these clothes do that walking around naked won’t do, is protect those body parts from sunburn, not to mention - uncontrollable bouncing.  I still wonder about that in the Dare to Go Bare Race.

Many readers may be wondering, “What about cotton?”  Most of us grew up learning that cotton was the ideal fabric for active people - it breathes;  it absorbs.  True.  Yet, that’s exactly what we don’t need while  exercising - wet, absorbent shorts.  If chafing is a problem for you - cotton could very well be the culprit.

Even cotton socks are no longer recommended for runners and walkers.  A better choice would be a synthetic brand, such as Thor-Lo socks.  Thor-Lo socks wick moisture from your feet so that your feet stay dry.  Incidentally, one of the primary causes of blisters, next to shoes that are too tight, are cotton socks.

When I started running in the mid-70’s, not only was it bad enough that we were exercising in cotton; all we had were men’s cotton shorts to make matters worse.  Finally, two women runners started the company Moving Comfort, which gave women a wide range of fabulous looking running and walking clothes that also manage moisture with many new technical fabrics.  Look for moisture management in shorts, tank tops, and bra tops.


Fabrics to include in your summer wear include:


Coolmax - polyester fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin and promotes evaporation.


Intera - wicks moisture; Coolmax competitor.


MicroLite & microfiber - used in running and walking shorts; extremely lightweight woven fabric, dries rapidly, even in the hottest weather.


Supplex - used in running and walking shorts; a nylon material that is soft, breathable, lightweight, and feels like cotton, but dries quickly.


T3 - wicking fabric, unique small-hole construction of material allows for excellent breathability.


Other tips for summer walking:


Wear a visor instead of a hat (unless you’re bald.)  Visors keep your face shaded while not holding in the heat.


Use a sweatband to keep the sweat from dripping into your eyes.  It also keeps the visor sweatband cleaner.


Carry water in a fanny pack water carrier.  I freeze a water bottle half full the night before.  Then, before I walk out the door, I fill the bottle the rest of the way with cold water.  Your water will stay nice and cold during your walk. Drink every 15 minutes.


Use waterproof sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen.


Remember that heat and humidity affect heart rate.  You may do well to slow down a bit while still getting a good workout.  Monitor your heart rate or use perceived exertion (how you feel) to make sure you’re not overdoing your exercise while it’s warmer.


On really hot days, do your walking early in the morning or later in the evening.  Or, use a treadmill or an indoor track, available in some recreation centers.


Lastly, as you head out for your run or walk there should be no excuses about exercising this summer.  With the right clothes, and the tips above, all you have to do is make sure your outfits match.  And you won’t have to worry about those sensitive parts getting sunburned.

Amino acids are promoted in health food stores, the back of magazines, and in some gyms as necessary for greater athletic performance. Racewalkers, who wants to excel, might be curious as to whether they should try these products.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, similar to the way glucose makes up carbohydrates, and fatty acids make up fat. Amino acids are crucial for the synthesis (building and maintenance) of muscle tissue.  Protein also is essential for growing hair and new skin tissue.

According to Page Love, a registered and licensed dietitian, and President of Nutri-Fit Consulting in Atlanta, some endurance racewalkers (20-50K distance competitors) may have an increased need for protein. She says that “endurance sports, especially very high intensity, long duration activities, decrease carbohydrate availability, thus forcing amino acid oxidation to increase which could possibly increase overall protein needs.”

Yet, Love says that even endurance racewalkers can meet their protein needs with a slight increase in the RDA, rather than supplementation.  The RDA for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight.  Love recommends 1.2 - 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight for endurance racewalkers.

When you take in extra amino acids or consume extra protein which your body can’t use, the excess is converted to fat for future use. The result is a weight gain comprised of fat, not muscle. Unfortunately, protein converted to fat can not be used as protein in the future. Once converted to fat, it remains as fat until it is utilized for fuel during aerobic exercise.  Racewalkers who are not endurance athletes (less than 20K distance), will receive no benefit from an increase in protein intake, and may even gain weight as a result.

Additionally, excess amounts of amino acids can cause dehydration, gout, kidney problems, calcium loss and an increase in urea production. Substituting amino acid supplements for food may also result in suboptimal intakes of other nutrients such as iron, zinc, thiamin and niacin found in protein rich foods.

If single amino acids are consumed in large quantities, imbalances and toxicities of amino acids are possible. Long term risks are not conclusive; however, preliminary rat studies done recently at Cornell University and Washington State University have linked a high protein diet to an increased risk of cancer.  Page Love Johnson cites a Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter which reported a case of psychosis and hallucinations resulting from single amino acid supplementation. 

While protein is an important and necessary component of a healthy eating plan, most Americans already eat too much protein. It’s recommended by the American Dietetic Association that our protein intake be 10-15% of our daily caloric intake. That translates to about 50 grams for the average woman and 63 grams a day for the average  man.

It is important to eat a small amount of protein with each meal. Good choices are lean meat, fish, or poultry. You can also choose non-fat or low fat dairy products such as skim milk, yogurt, or low-fat cheese. A premier protein food would be beans which are the only protein choice low in fat and high in fiber. No meat or milk products have any fiber.

For most racewalkers, amino acid supplements provide nothing more than an unnecessary expense. A better idea would be to maintain a healthy, balanced, low-fat eating plan and save your money for a new racewalking outfit.

© 2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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