Challenge To Change: Sip, Shoes, Safety

By Bobby DeMuro

Over the past two weeks, we've been going through the first challenge together and we've already picked up some some easy fitness tips. Slow and steady is the name of the game. Have the new habits taken hold yet? Are you being active at least 45 minutes each day?

One overlooked aspect of being active is equipment. Now, you don't need to spend a significant amount of money to be fit - and that's the draw of this challenge; it can be done without a gym membership or a personal trainer.

But, if safety and optimal performance is a concern for you when you're exercising, there are a few things to consider.

Footwear Depending on use (running, walking, etc), your weight, and the surface you exercise on, shoes can last anywhere from about 300-500 miles before they put you at risk of injury. So, it's important to track your distances over time, and have a general idea of where you may be in order to determine if you need a new pair.

Shoes don't need to be expensive, but they do need to be effective. Runners and walkers obviously need one kind of shoe; weightlifters, sport-specific athletes, and cyclists need others.

Try on shoes late in the day. If you go in the morning, your foot will be slightly smaller than it would after a day of walking - and you don?t want to end up with a small shoe. Also, make sure you take the socks you will wear when you exercise to the store. The right feel must take specific sock size into account.

Safety Gear Clothing is another important aspect of exercise safety. Sure, it may not be quite as hot as the middle of summer anymore, but heat-related illness is still somewhat of an issue.

Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing when you exercise, especially outdoors. New technologies like Dri-Fit shirts allow your body to "breathe" when exercising - the materials are lighter, more flexible, and absorb sweat more efficiently to keep you cool.

Light- and bright-colored clothing is also important, especially for walkers, joggers, and cyclists outside. Having clothing on that makes you easily visible to passing motorists dramatically decreases the risk of being hit by a driver, and it's a simple precaution to take.

If you're outside a lot, or travel long distances when running, walking, or jogging, an identification bracelet may also be a wise move; on it, you can put emergency contact information so that if the worst happens, medical professionals can contact your family, know what you may be allergic to in the event of incapacitation, and more. Road ID, Runners ID, and more companies create these bracelets.

Hydration Soon, we'll deal with hydration as its own 3-week challenge, but it's important to discuss it at this point, too. Drinking water, or a low-calorie sports drink, is a sure-fire way to prevent dehydration, combat heat-related illness, and keep your body cool and functioning properly while exercising.

Amounts differ for different body types, exercise levels, and outdoor temperatures, but a good rule of thumb is to drink 10-15 ounces (or about a bottle of water) 45 minutes before exercise, and to bring a water bottle with you and have it on hand during activity to drink as you need.

Proper hydration promotes healthy muscle activity, efficiently moves blood through your body, and keeps your brain focused and alert during activity!

Like we've seen, you don't need to spend a considerable amount of money, or get the coolest new gear, in order to be safe and prepared for exercise. There are a few small adjustments you can make, though, to ensure you're prepared and ready to get the most out of this challenge, and your new exercise plan!

Based on your tweets, it sounds like you're taking the first challenge in stride - literally - and finding ways to be more active every day! Remember that every bit of movement counts, and after a few weeks you've hopefully started to build a strong, healthy habit.

Make healthy decisions this week, and embrace change! Next week, get ready for me to lay out a brand new challenge, and some specific items you can add to your goals!


About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter here or on Facebook.

You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.

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