Posted in Body

Walking is the New Cool—Especially During Extreme Heat

Most of the US is suffering from a heat wave right now.  Our bodies are amazing, but they are affected by the heat and those of us that workout outdoors have to modify our plans for our own good. In years past, during extreme heat, I’ve had two reactions … all or nothing. I’d either can all my workouts or I’d continue with the schedule I had because I was sure I was tough enough to handle it.

Neither of these approaches is good.

Totally canning all workouts is like not doing laundry for two weeks, you then have to play catchup the following week. But staying with your regular workouts is like driving at normal speeds in a snowstorm.

So what’s the happy medium? How can you respect your body in this heat? What is healthy if you don’t want to crank up the AC and undust the treadmill?.

Go out at the crack of dawn.

It will not kill you … seriously it won’t. Yes, you might have to go to bed earlier the night before … but avoiding the additional degrees of heat will be worth it. And you might see a scene like this.

Mornings are beautiful ....... Hopewell Furnace - Janet Oberholtzer

Slow Down.

You can not expect your body to maintain the same workout pace as usual … it is working harder to breath (especially if there’s humidity) to keep vital organs cool and to get oxygen to important places, like your brain. (I prefer to give my brain all the help I can)

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Shorten your workout

Whether you are running or biking … cut your planned distance by a third or even a half. The heat will make your body work harder, so only going half the distance will still give you a good workout.

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Walk.

Walking is great exercise … and even in heat your body can keep up with your energy demands much easier than any other type of exercise. I recently heard Dan Buettner speak and he says, “Walking is not only good for our bodies, but also our brains and “walking is the best activity for longevity.”

Since hearing that, I value walking more and have enjoyed walks/hikes through a local state forest that I hadn’t explored before. I also make use of a treadmill desk which means I can walk while working in my comfortable temperature-controlled house.

And many others are also recognizing the value of walking…

Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving.  And movement is life. ~Terri Guillemets

People say that losing weight is no walk in the park.  When I hear that I think, yeah, that’s the problem. ~Chris Adams

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir

And for Harry Potter fans: Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas. ~J.K. Rowling (spoken by the character Mad-Eye Moody)

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With these adjustments, drinking gallons of water and hopefully some AC during the rest of the day, you can survive this heat wave. Then whenever the weather normalizes …  your body won’t have reverted to a couch potato, plus you won’t be physically and mentally exhausted from pushing yourself too hard through the heat.

With these adjustments, your body and mind will be ready to tackle your normal routine … with more energy than if you’d have taken the all or nothing approach.


How do you handle extreme heat? Any other suggestions?

For more great heat-related articles … visit The Heat is On at Runner’s World
Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts About the Future After Spending 3 Days with 18 Teens

Are you concerned about the next generation? About kids now-a-days? Do you think they are unkind, lazy or disrespectful? I’m here to tell you that is not true. Or at least not true for the 18 kids I spent 3 days with recently.

When it comes to gift-giving, I’d rather give an experience than things. So for my son Jon’s highschool graduation gift and party, we rented our friend’s bay house and told Jon he can invite some friends.  The house comfortably holds about 14, so we discussed inviting around 12. Jon can be a social butterfly and he doesn’t want anyone to feel left out, so when the final tally was done, there were 18 teens joining the fun. (thankfully they don’t mind sleeping on the floor and sharing bathrooms)

The bay teens (minus one who had to leave early)

I wondered how it would all work out, but there was no need to worry … all went well. If these kids are any example of the next generation, the world is going to be just fine. Before you assume I was with a ‘perfect’ segment of kids that all come from ‘perfect’ homes and situations … I wasn’t. But they are all kids that I will watch as they move forward in life, because I’m impressed.

4 things the teens impressed me with:

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1. Willingness to help

Each teen paid a nominal fee for the trip, then I supplied all the food with help from my friend Deb  (mother to one of Jon’s friends) No one had to bring food, but some of the girls volunteered, so I suggested baked goods. I was blown away at all the food they brought … delicious brownies (chocolate cream cheese, apple carmel and more) and loaves of pumpkin, chocolate chip and banana bread. (Yes, I tried them all)

Most of the group arrived at the same time and the kids were anxious to explore the dock and the water front. I asked if they could come back in ten minutes to help unload (you can imagine how many bags and coolers of food we had) My expectations for how many kids would return was low … but my pleasant surprises continued. Every kid returned and grabbed whatever Jerry handed to them. All I had to do was stand inside the door directing the flow of supplies and after a few minutes we were finished.

At our first meal, I passed around a signup list to help with cleanup after each meal. I wondered how many slots would be filled … and most were. Not only did they signup, they showed up! After each meal, 3 kids were ready to do whatever was needed. Many began cleanup without me even asking … they went ahead with washing dishes, collecting trash, etc. Most times, all I had to do was tell them what to do with the leftovers (which were minimal and usually gone by the next morning) This gave Debbie (her dog) and I time to kayak once or twice a day.

Deb and Charlie

2. Being kind

Though I told the kids they only had to help with meal cleanup (I would rather do prep work and cook) when kids who weren’t on the boat saw me prepare a meal, they often volunteered to help.

The highlight for the kids was Jerry pulling them on a wakeboard or on tubes behind our boat. It’s hard to make sure each kid has equal time, but with a little monitoring by Jerry, the kids were kind and generous with each other, making sure everyone had a turn everyday.

When I was accidently taken out nailed in the eye by a marshmallow during the marshmallow fight (what else was I going to do with a huge bag of marshmallows after I found out it was too dry to have a bonfire?) many of the kids were concerned about my eye … even asking about it the next day.

Thanks to the kids, we had time to relax

3. Hard work

Some of Jon’s friends are younger, so they will be back in highschool playing sports in the fall. Even with their coaches miles again and while their friends were boating and playing games, they followed their coaches recommendations and did their summer workouts and runs.

At first, Deb and I planned to send everyone home and the two of us clean the house after they leave … figuring it would be easier once everyone is gone. But when the last day arrived, we were tired, so I made a list of cleanup chores and passed it around. By now the kids had impressed me, but I was still skeptic about how many of the slots would be filled. Again, they signed up and showed up. At clean up time. Deb tackled the kitchen, while I handed out cleaning supplies, monitored the process and took care of odd jobs … and before long the place was sparkling.

4. Living life to the fullest: at play and at work

Many of the kids had not tubed or wakeboarded before, but all wanted to try one or both activities. Wake-boarding is difficult to learn … but many kids opted to try and they did not give up easily, even with repeated false starts, falls and face plants.

Tubing is easy, but it’s tiring, especially with Jerry driving the boat in a zig-zag fashion and/or in half-circles and two kids on two tubes playing a water version of king-on-the-mountain. By the last day, though they were exhausted, but I heard many say that they wanted go one more time before we go home.

They didn’t want to miss an opportunity to have fun.

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I came home impressed and hopeful about the future. True, teens (like adults) aren’t perfect. They stayed up later than I think is wise. (though I did the same when I was a teen) They ate lots of fruit, but not enough vegetables. I was lost with some of their jokes and slang words. There was an issue or two that had to be talked through, but overall the kids were great. So my advice is stop stressing about teens and about the future. With these kind, helpful, hard working teens-turned-into-adults in charge, the future is going to be fine.

Do you have confidence in the next generation? Why or why not?

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For more pictures, see this album on Facebook.
Posted in Book Review

10 Beneficial Habits by Dan Buettner … and Me

Dan Buettner has been on the move since high school, when he began traveling around the world. Sometimes he travels by plane and sometimes on a bike … once biking 15,500 miles from Alaska to Argentina. He holds three world records for endurance bicycling.

And he has the coolest job. He’s a writer for National Geographic and he travels around the globe researching what can add value and years to our lives. He’s written two books, Blue Zones and Thrive.

Recently I heard Dan speak. His speech was entertaining, informational and well-delivered. His stories and the accompanying slides made me want to meet all the sweet folks he spent time with as he did research on their lifestyle habits. I was also able to chat with him for a few minutes afterwards and he is one of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. He autographed a book for me to give away to you, my lovely readers. (giveaway info below)

At his talk, he shared the Power 9 from his book, Blue Zones – Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. These are nine habits we can all begin today to improve our lives … here they are in a mixture of his words and mine.

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1.  Move Naturally

Structured exercise is good, but adding walking to your day in a natural way is even more beneficial long-term, because you are more likely to continue it throughout life. Park in the last spot in the parking lot, not the one closest to the door. Garden, walk to the neighbors just to say hi or to share the extra zucchini from your garden.

2.  Know your Purpose

People who know why they wake up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t. Take time to think through your passions and your purpose. Learn to do something well and share what you know … it will give you a reason to get up in the morning.

3. Down Shift

Stress kills! Chronic inflammation caused by stress is related to every major, age-related disease. Do something to shed stress for at least 15 minutes every day … meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.

4. 80% Rule

Stop before you are full. Stop eating when you are only 80% full and you will be healthier. Also, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

5. Plant Slant

As an almost-vegetarian, I was not surprised to hear that his research showed that most of the people living to be over 100 ate primarily a plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. He says eat meat (I say fish) in small portions, about the size of a deck of cards, only twice a week.

6. Wine at 5

Love this research! Moderate drinkers out-live non-drinkers. Two glasses of wine daily is healthy especially when sipped and savored during a plant-based meal.

7. Family First

Families aren’t perfect and they can sometimes add stress to one’s life, but research shows that living in a thriving family is worth a half a dozen extra years of life expectancy. Invest time in your kids, be in a monogamous relationship and keep your aging parents nearby.

8. Belong

Love others. Connect with a faith-based community. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. People who interact with their faith community a few times a week live an extra 4-14 years.

9. Right Tribe

Take a look at your friends. If they are making wise choices about themselves, chances are you will be more successful at doing so. If needed, expand your social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people and you could add years to your life.

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10. Pause and Think

With respect to Dan, I am going to add #10. I don’t have as much research to back it as Dan does for his points, but it’s something I’ve noticed and Dan shared a story that reinforced this thought for me.

Dan asked a 105 year old woman, “What the best thing about being 105?”

She paused and said, “There’s no peer pressure.”

Yes, her answer is funny … but what I noticed was Dan said she paused before she answered. Paused. Thought. I believe that pausing and thinking is a priceless habit that adds value to one’s life.

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Is there another habit we should know about to live healthy lives? If you have #11, feel free to share it.