Fitness Walking: Preparing for the Climate

Weather variations make any outdoor activity, including walking, more complicated and  layers more important. Of course, it’s also  the  weather that makes being  outdoors a lot more enjoyable too,  as  long  as  you  correctly layer  the right protective gear and apparel. In cold weather, try to pick a warmer part of the  day for your  workout and the  warmest days  for your  harder walks. Cover your  ears, nose, and fingertips; these parts of your  body  are most susceptible to frostbite. If you’re particularly susceptible to the cold, carry extra sweats or an oxygen-activated heat pack  for after  your  workout (these are little carbon- filled bags  that, when  opened, become cozy hand warmers that produce heat for about eight  hours). Remove  sweaty, wet clothing as soon as possible after your workout because the moisture will continue to draw heat from your cooling body. Be aware of the  early  signs  of frostbite (tingling, numbness, or burning in the  extremities) or hypothermia (pallor, mental confusion, or cold extremities).

Hot climates are always a challenge, particularly because humidity can make  a difference in effort and  potential danger. Wear  white Fitness Walking - Preparing for the Climate iclothing, which better reflects the  hot  sun. Even lightweight, loose, long-sleeved, white  shirts can reflect heat better than bare arms. Try soaking a hat  in cool water before wearing it, and  punch holes in it so your  body  heat can  escape. Drink plenty of water before and  after  your  workout, and  don’t  be afraid to sweat. Sweat acts as your  body’s natural evaporative air cooler. Stay alert for signs  of heat exhaustion and heatstroke: weak or rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, weakness, lack of sweating, and hot and dry skin. Normally you need a week or two to get used to the  heat. But that means you have  to go out  for easier walks,  not  sit on the porch sipping iced tea. Just  take it easy  when  it first gets hot and avoid the hottest part of the day. You can also consider finding a mall or gym where you can walk indoors on extremely cold  or hot  days.

Heat–Humidity Readings

Keep the  following  hot-weather ratings table handy for reference on hot  days (see table 3.1). Find the temperature on the left side of the scale and the relative humidity percentage on the  top.  Find where these two readings converge. A temperature below 75 degrees Fahrenheit is normally always safe (“A” ratings), and  one  above 95 degrees is almost always unsafe (“F” ratings), no  matter what  the  humidity. Use good  judgment when  ratings fall from “B” to “D.” The typical advice is to exercise outdoors during cooler morning hours, but  that doesn’t necessarily hold  true in humid climates. When it’s warmer, such as in the late evening in humid areas, the air has a higher moisture-holding capacity, so the same amount of moisture in the air will result in a lower overall relative humidity.

Fitness Walking - Preparing for the Climate

 Wind-Chill Readings

Use the cold-weather ratings table for windy winter days (see table 3.2). Locate the day’s wind speed on the left side of the scale and the temperature across the top. Find where these two readings converge. A temperature above 35 degrees Fahrenheit is normally always safe  (“A” ratings), and  one  below  10 degrees below  zero  is almost always unsafe (“F” ratings), no  matter what  the  wind speed. Again, use good  judgment when  ratings fall from “B” to “D.”

Fitness Walking - Preparing for the Climate t2

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