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Summer Fitness for Your Skin

Be Sun Smart!

This is the season many of us move everything from our meals to our workouts outside. There’s nothing like a run along the sand or a game of beach volleyball to mix up your fitness routine! That means it’s also time to step up your efforts to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun, especially skin cancer.

Here are a few sobering facts to remember courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer in women ages 25-29.
  • One person dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.

The good news is protecting yourself from skin cancer doesn’t have to be difficult. Wearing sunscreen is one of the best preventive measures you can take. However, applying it just once if you’re going to be outside for several hours isn’t enough. If you’re active in the sun, even sweat-proof sunscreens need to be re-applied. I admit many of the heavily promoted long-wearing sunscreens can be sticky and streaky, so if you have one that works for you when you’re breaking a sweat, I’d love to hear about it!

For those of us with sensitive skin, finding a sunscreen for the face can be an even bigger problem. I’m one of the 16 million Americans who suffer from Rosacea, a chronic inflammatory skin condition with symptoms including redness, bumps and even small visible blood vessels on the face. Unfortunately, my condition is partly the result of all the sun-worshipping I did in my teens and 20s. Now I have to be extra careful when I’m enjoying time at the beach as sun exposure is one of the triggers that can cause a flare up. Add an irritating sunscreen to the mix, and my skin can really be out of whack after just an hour or two in the sun.

I think I may have finally found a sunscreen that will protect my face from the sun and not aggravate my Rosacea. It’s called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I found it at my local Duane Reade drug store. It’s actually a super lightweight fluid that comes in SPF 45 and 60. Along with my Clinique SPF 30 stick for my delicate eye area and lips, I hope I’m all set for the summer!

Along with wearing sunscreen, if you have moles, it’s important to keep an eye on them. I can’t count the number of moles I have on my body but I can tell you I’ve had at least a half-dozen suspicious-looking moles removed in the past 10 years. I visit my dermatologist annually to make sure none of my moles, especially the ones that have irregular borders and different shades of color. In fact, I had my 2012 visit about three weeks ago and got the all clear til next year. Click here for more on the ABC’s (and Ds and Es) of when it’s time to get a mole checked by a dermatologist.

So if you’re busy replenishing your summer stock of moisture-wicking shirts and shorts, don’t forget to replenish your sunscreen supplies, too. Staying sun smart is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitness Fun in the Sun!

Bring on Summer!

TGIF!

I hope everyone’s ready to enjoy some R & R during the Memorial Day weekend. It’s so important we all remember the true meaning of this holiday. It’s a day dedicated to honoring all the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Memorial Day weekend also marks the unofficial kick off to the summer! If Mother Nature smiles down on your plans to enjoy some time in the backyard, at the beach or nearby park, keep this in mind: now’s the perfect time to kick-start a whole new season of fitness fun!

Wherever you’re going, when you pack up the sunscreen, sunglasses and snacks, why not  toss a football, frisbee or paddle-ball game into your bag or the trunk of the car? Adding some activity to your holiday get-together is a great way to keep some of the beer and BBQ calories in check. It’s also  a great reminder that you don’t need a gym for a great workout.

If you’re really inspired, there are plenty of exercises you can perform on a sandy or grassy surface. Some examples include burpees, squats, push-ups and planks. Of course, if you have any knee, ankle, hip or back issues, I’d highly recommend wearing your sneakers when attempting to bang out some reps on an unstable surface.

Whatever you do and wherever you do it, here are some timely tips for the holiday weekend that will take you through the entire season:

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, preferably water.
  • Apply and re-apply plenty of waterproof, sweat-proof sunscreen. Sore muscles from a game of beach volleyball can be rewarding, but a sunburn never feels good!
  • Finally – don’t forget to stretch! After giving those arms and legs a good workout, static or active-isolated stretches can help the body recover. Remember: static stretches need to be held for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Memorial Day and an entire weekend filled with plenty of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous! 


Play Ball!

Spring Has Sprung!

This is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s the day my beloved New York Yankees play their home opener in the Bronx.

This day makes me feel like spring has officially sprung. That means it’s the perfect time for me to encourage anyone looking to be more active to use the season to your advantage. No more excuses – Mother Nature is giving you the ideal backdrop to get out and get moving!

I know I’m a gym rat. I also know there are people who just don’t like to go to the gym. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some exercise and feel great!

We’re supposed to enjoy near 70-degree temps here in New York over the weekend. So, there’s no excuse not do any or all of the following:

  • Take a hike: I mean that in the nicest way possible.
  • Take a walk: You can do double-duty and make up for some overdue catch-up time with a friend by taking him or her along for a brisk jaunt around your neighborhood.
  • Hit the park: You don’t need a gym to do squats, lunges or even burpees. Use a bench for box jumps. Heck, go climb a tree!
  • Hit the beach: If you’re a beach bunny like me, it’s never too early to get near the water! Wear or bring an extra layer of clothing to keep the spring-breezes at bay and hit the boardwalk. For an extra challenge on an uneven surface, take your feet to the sand.
  • Hit the playground: Be a kid again! Swing on the monkey bars or use them for pull-ups.
  • Play some pick-up: Get active and make new friends by shooting some hoops.
  • Try a new racquet: Do you have a tennis racquet collecting dust in a closet? Dust it off and hit the court.
  • Turn fantasy into reality: Forget make-believe baseball – get some friends and get on the field!

Wherever you live and whatever your pleasure, I hope Mother Nature smiles on you this weekend so you can find some new opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Cold Weather Workouts

The pre-Halloween snow storm was an unexpected and not-so-pleasant surprise for most of here in the Northeast. Luckily, I dug out the gloves and ear warmers in time for Old Man Winter’s early visit. Now that these warm, woolly items are sitting in an easy-to-reach spot in my closet, I thought it was the perfect time for some important reminders on how to safely stick with your outdoor exercise routine as we head into a cold finish for 2011:

  • Dress In Layers: Start with a thin layer of synthetic material (e.g. Under Armour or Nike DriFIT clothing) closest to the skin. Avoid wearing cotton as it takes longer to dry and the wet feel can give you a chill.  Add a layer of fleece or wool and last but not least, finish off your outfit with a waterproof outer-layer.
  • Protect Your Hands, Feet & Ears: My hands and feet are cold even on the hottest days of the year, so they’re especially vulnerable to wind chills and icy temperatures. So, in colder weather, I’ll often wear a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier ones, or even a pair of mittens. I know some people who have a “winter” pair of running or walking shoes that are up to one size bigger so they can wear thicker thermal socks or two pairs of regular ones. Finally, I’m a big fan of the wrap-around ear warmers or fleece headbands to keep the biting wind from wreaking havoc on my ears.
  • Don’t Forget the Sunscreen: If you’ve ever gotten a nasty sunburn from skiing, you know the sun is just as strong in the cold-weather months as it is in the summertime. Remember to put on the SPF 30 before heading outdoors and don’t forget the the SPF-infused lip balm, too.
  • Stay Hydrated:  We hear lots of warnings about becoming dehydrated in the heat,  but you can become dehydrated just as easily in the cold. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. (Here’s a refresher on why water is so important.)
  • Special Populations: While most people can exercise safely in the cold weather, if you have a heart condition or suffer from asthma, be sure to check with your physician before starting a cold-weather exercise routine.

The good news is you don’t have to pack away your motivation to exercise with the bathing suit and beach towels. Using a little common sense and having the right gear will allow you to continue your love affair with the great outdoors through November and beyond so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Fitting Fitness Into Your Vacation

Photo by Laura DeAngelis

This will be my last post for several days. Why? Because I’m getting out of the hot and steamy Big Apple for long weekend of relaxation in Newport, Rhode Island.  We all work hard, and we all need to get away now and then.  The good news is while you can leave reality behind for awhile, you don’t have to abandon your fitness regimen. If anything, a vacation gives you the opportunity to mix up your routine.  So, as a break from packing, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite ways to burn some calories while on vacation:

  • Walk, walk and walk some more!  Our hotel in Newport is about one mile from the beach, so we get some good strides heading to and from our daily hangout. Then there’s the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk, which offers such amazing scenery, you may forget you’re getting a good workout while you scramble on some rocks along the way.  Wherever you may be going, make the effort to leave the car behind and explore the town or neighboring area on foot. (Don’t forget to bring supportive footwear.)
  • If there’s a pool where you’re staying, do some daily laps.
  • Pack a Frisbee or paddle ball game to play on the beach. If there’s a beach volleyball game going on somewhere, don’t be shy – ask if you can join one of the teams.  No sand around? Find a park, claim your spot in the grass and have some fun!
  • Try something completely different.  If you’re near a lake, find out if you can rent a canoe or kayaks and paddle around for an hour or two. If you like it on your first day, you can go back for more during the duration of the trip.
  • Use the hotel’s fitness center. More and more hotels are offering some sort of workout space. Granted, it may consist of one stationary bike, one elliptical, one treadmill, some free weights and (if you’re lucky) a yoga ball.  Those options mean you can still get in some good cardio, and use the free weights as extra resistance for squats and lunges.  Then you can work the upper body with a minimum of bicep curls, lateral raises and overhead presses, and round things out with some core work.  All in the comfort of air conditioning!
  • If you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere with a DVD player and some extra room, bring one or two of your fitness DVDs along for the trip.

Newport, RI

Whatever activity you jump on, remember to stretch the muscles you worked during that walk, canoe ride  or mean game of paddle ball.  Make sure you also stay hydrated, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Whether or not the coming weekend allows you the opportunity to get away from it all, I wish you some time to relax and re-charge your batteries so you can approach a new week with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Beat the Heat

Photo by Laura DeAngelis

Toward the end of this wonderful weekend, I headed to our rooftop deck to enjoy my weekly “guilty pleasure” of reading the latest People magazine cover to cover.  Despite my SPF 30 sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses and big water bottle, I only lasted an hour. The heat was just too much, and I was just lying around reading. Which made me realize this is the perfect time for a refresher course on heat-related emergencies.

With a little help from the textbooks I used to study for my AFAA and NASM exams (Fitness: Theory & Practice, Fifth Edition and NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Third Edition), here’s what you need to know if you or someone you’re working out with experiences any of the following:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising, find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink cool water.

Heat exhaustion: This is a step up in severity from heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering and drink cool water.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal body temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: As with heat exhaustion, get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

A few preventive steps to remember:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather.
  • If you are being treated for cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are any medications, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with these two final and important tips:

  • Do not hesitate to call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

While it’s the perfect time to get outside and get moving, use some extra care so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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