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Julia Savacool

Exercising in the Heat

Written on June 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm , by

Read this before you hit the streets on a hot day.

So I woke up this morning for my run, headed out the door… and ran smack into a wall of 80-degree heat, with 90 percent humidity. At 6 a.m.? Really? Really. Exercising in the heat is a challenge, but it’s also a potential health risk if you’re not smart about it. Check out these tips, courtesy of our friends over at New York Road Runners:

Respect your limits. Heat and humidity increase the physical challenge of running, and health problems can occur when you push beyond what your body can handle. Do not aim for a personal best on a warm, sticky day, particularly if you are not used to such conditions.

Acclimate. It takes 10 days to two weeks for the body to acclimate to keeping cool at higher temperatures. Give your body time to adjust.

Know the signs of heat problems. If you feel faint, dizzy, disoriented, or your skin is clammy and abnormally hot or cold, slow down or stop running. If symptoms continue, sit or lie down in the shade and seek medical help.

Drink enough. Drink throughout the day, so that your urine remains plentiful and pale yellow. Even mild dehydration (scant, dark-yellow urine) will make you feel sluggish and tire early during exercise, and can increase the risk of heat-related problems during exercise. In the heat, sports drinks are even better than water because the sugar and salt they contain form an “active pump” that transports fluid to cells more quickly than water alone. Before workouts lasting longer than one hour in the heat, drink 16 ounces of fluid several hours in advance, another 16 ounces in the hour before, and more just before the start if your urine isn’t pale.

Don’t drink too much. Overhydrating before and during exercise can cause a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia (water intoxication). This drop in the body’s sodium levels can cause nausea, fatigue, vomiting, weakness, and in the most severe cases, seizures, coma, and death. To avoid hyponatremia, do not overdrink, include pretzels or a salted bagel in your pre-run meal, and use a sports drink that contains sodium. During exercise, drink no more than a cup of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.

Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a cap or visor to shield your head, face, and eyes from the sun’s burning rays, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Use sunscreen on exposed skin, even on overcast days.

Check your meds. Do not consume products like cold medicines, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or anti-diarrhea medicines with dehydrating agents in them. They may increase your risk for heat illness. Caffeine products are only OK in doses you are used to taking on training day. Do not start taking a caffeine product on race day.

Wear synthetic fabrics. Unlike cotton, synthetics wick moisture from your skin so cooling evaporation can occur. Synthetics also decrease chafing and don’t cling and cause a chill. Look for loose-fitting garments with mesh inserts under the arms, on the sides of the torso, down the arms, and on the outer thighs. Acrylic socks keep feet dry and cool.

Our Editor’s Take: Plastic Surgery Overload

Written on April 13, 2011 at 9:43 am , by

You'll need a few bandages for that many surgeries! (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mimi_K)

You'll need a few bandages for that many surgeries! (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mimi_K)

I just finished watching an ABC news interview with Cindy Jackson, a 55-year-old woman who looks like she’s 32 and holds the world record for number of cosmetic surgeries (52!). Not sure whether that’s the craziest thing, or if it’s the cash she’s forked over ($100,000) to look like she’s young enough to be her own daughter. She’s had five facelifts, nips, tucks and “knee liposuction” (to get rid of the bags of fat along the insides her knees, she explained).

When the reporter commented that Cindy was messing with nature, Cindy corrected him. “Nature is messing with me,” she said. “So I don’t have a problem with that.”

Whether or not you believe in plastic surgery, or have thought about getting a face lift, or could see the day when maaaaybe you’d have lipo… 52 procedures? Really? I mean, think of all the workouts you could do in that time! The calories you could burn! The muscles you could tone! The personal trainers you might have worked with! Surely, 20 surgeries would have sufficed? Throw in some core conditioning and Pilates classes, and I bet she could’ve gotten away with 19, minus that last tummy tuck.

I’m all for “you gotta do what you gotta do.” I’m just saying I’d rather do it the old fashioned way. More sweat, less needles.

Now tell us: Would you ever consider plastic surgery? What’s your take on this story?

Image via

Motivating Music for a Rainy Run

Written on March 21, 2011 at 10:33 am , by

Image via flickr user bunchofpants

Image via flickr user bunchofpants

Hammering out the miles in a downpour this morning to this bit-of-everything playlist:

What are you working out to today?

Image via

Sample Spies: 6 Snacks We’re Testing Now

Written on February 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm , by

.snacks

Here at FITNESS, we have a shelf where editors place all the samples people send to our offices once we are done reviewing them. Frequent items include books, spandex, sports drinks and snacks. Snacks! Today’s table is inundated with tasty treats of a bizarre assortment. In no particular order, we have:

Muscle Milk Light, Cafe Latte flavor. At 160 calories, this drinks packs 20 grams of protein and 11 grams of carbs. This stuff is no joke. My advice: Do not, I repeat, do NOT, drink the entire bottle before a hard workout if you are not used to it. Things will end…badly.

RW Garcia’s Flaxseed Tortilla Chips. They’re organic, wheat and gluten free and contain no trans fats. They’re also nearly 1000 calories in one bag (7 servings) which makes this a good choice for someone else to keep on their desk!

Mann’s Sugar Snap Peas. Pre-washed, ready for crisp crunching right at your desk. Directions on the back of the package suggest spraying snap peas with cooking spray, adding BBQ seasoning, shaking them around and “you’ll think you’re crunching on your favorite flavored chips—without the calories!” Can’t vouch for that, as  have neither cooking spray nor BBQ seasoning at my desk. (Anyone else want to try it? Report back in the comments!)

Reddi Whip Fat-Free Whip Cream. Five calories a serving. Wish they’d sent it with a sundae to squirt it on.

Alo Exposed Original Aloe Drink. Name kind of says it all. No preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. There are, however, some unusual opaque things floating around in the bottle, slivers of aloe, perhaps? 120 calories in the bottle and a big dose of aloe vera in case you’re missing any in your diet.

Michael Season’s Reduced-Fat Jalapeno Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. Tangy, crunchy and satisfying. Probably why there was a case of them on the table a minute ago, and now there are just two bags.

So there you have it – this morning’s goodies. With all that distraction, it’s a wonder we get any work done around here!

The Art of Being Healthy

Written on February 8, 2011 at 10:32 am , by

Nope, not for smoking! (Met Museum Collection)

I spent part of the weekend strolling through the endless rooms and halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a favorite thing to do on cold, rainy, gray winter days — which it was) and happened upon a collection of antique medicine bottles, droppers and spoons, some of which were dated back to the 3rd century, from the Middle East.

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down... (Met Museum Collection)

Some were glass, others clay, even various metals, but all were intricately etched and designed, so much so that they equal parts works of art and functional medicine dispensers. The spoons were immense—exactly how much of this stuff were they taking?!—and very ornate. Most were owned by the wealthiest people in the town, as they were the only ones who could afford medical treatment when they fell ill. The poorer peasants were left to fend for themselves (surely they would have been a fan of Obama’s healthcare reforms…).

Got me thinking about our orange-colored plastic safety cap bottles that we get every time we pick up a prescription at the local pharmacy. Bland, generic, uninspiring.

I mean, I get it. Handblown Venetian glass every time you stop in to CVS for a refill can get…expensive. It just struck me, as I examined these precious little hand-carved wonders, how much care and thought went into creating a medical product. And maybe with that, a kind of reverence for the pills and potions themselves, and their powers to heal.

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Holy Coldness, Batman!

Written on January 25, 2011 at 8:55 am , by

central park winter

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andrew Dallos

How do you say 5 degrees and -8 degrees windchill? If you’re a runner trying to get some miles in before work, you might say it like this:  Icebreaker 280 tights, Asics storm shelter pants, Craft Zero long sleeve base layer, Nike fleece, Asics gloves, Brooks mittens over gloves, brooks skull cap.

I won’t say it was the most comfortable run ever, but I will say proper layering makes all the difference. Funny story: There’s a guy who runs in Central Park in a black thong leotard. If you’re a park regular, you know the guy. He’s kind of hard to miss. Saw him this morning in, yes, his thong leotard and nothing else. And all I could think was, “That man could use a lesson or two in layering.” Brrr! I wish I could show you a picture…but even if I had one, I wouldn’t have his permission to post it!

When it’s frigid and freezing out, do you keep your workout inside? And ever see anyone as crazy as the leotard guy?

MORE FROM FITNESS: Is Running in the Cold Dangerous?

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Our Winter Weather Must-Have: YaxTrax

Written on January 4, 2011 at 11:15 am , by

Yax TraxLast week, NYC was pummeled by a blizzard. Two feet of snow in Central Park could mean only one thing…. YakTrax! If anyone is looking for a guaranteed way to get grip while running on snowy, icy terrain, these super simple coverings for the bottom of your running shoes are awesome. Warning: They do NOT work on wood floors or dry pavement (just the opposite, you’ll slip) so tuck them in your pocket, then strap them on when you hit the trails.

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