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HEALTH MATTERS: Exercise, proper shoes, hydration are winning combination

Kevin Biggers is considered a natural athlete. Even with his college days as a defensive back for the University of Nebraska football team behind him, the head coach for the USC Trojan Masters Track Club spotted Biggers and recruited him.

“Head Coach Driver urged me to try out,” Biggers said. “I had no formal training to run track but I’m always up for a challenge, so I chose the long jump.” Ten days later, Biggers competed and won the gold medal.

Typically, it is not recommended for the average person to jump into a highly competitive, strenuous sport without intense training and certainly not without the proper shoes.

Biggers points out that wearing the proper shoes, keeping hydrated and eating fruits and vegetables are essential to getting on the right track for better health. An integral part of Biggers’ daily routine is drinking a gallon of water and at least three sports beverages.

“I wear regular running shoes when training,” Biggers said. “However, when competing, I wear jumper shoes for the long jump and sprinter shoes for the 100 and 200 meter sprints.”

Biggers has competed in the World Masters Athletics Championship in France, Brazil and Northern California. He is training for the April 2017 Masters World Championship in New Zealand: 100 meters, 200 meters and long jump.

“Running is a way of life for me,” Biggers said. “This year, I joined a pro club, Natural Fitness Athletics, led by Coach Brown.” Biggers is an inspiration of what can be accomplished when we take the first step toward our highest potential.

Another series of steps that millions take is a pledge to get fit and stay healthy on Global Running Day. It was created on June 1 to embrace the joy of running and getting moving. This year, 177 countries, 672,030 kids and 2,500,120 participants ran a combined total of 9,250,443 miles.

While I have no plans to join Biggers on the track and field or participate on Global Running Day, I strive to be active. Believe it or not, in high school I ran the 440-yard dash and won a few medals. My high school coach stressed that wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes and staying hydrated was a top priority.

Unlike Biggers, my form of exercise these days consists of long walks, jogging, and hiking.  As we age, our feet change and finding the proper shoe can be a daunting task. After an extensive search, the right shoe for my physical activities of choice was a brand designed especially for women. The Therafit brand has five layers of foot pain protection.

Therafit shoes, known as the 12-hour shoe, hold a patent for comfort and support.   (Photo courtesy of Therafit)
Therafit shoes, known as the 12-hour shoe, hold a patent for comfort and support.
(Photo courtesy of Therafit)

After years of wearing five-inch heels, the balls of my feet — the surface area between the toes and the arch — have been worn down. Therafit’s line of shoes have ample toe room, cushioning, personal comfort adapters, shock-absorbing heel and arch support which allow me to stand, walk or hike for long periods of time without feeling pain or fatigue.

Along with my personal seal of approval, the shoes are endorsed by the National Posture Institute. The American Podiatric Medical Association approves the patented technology used in the engineering of the Therafit brand of shoes, boots and sandals.

Equipped with an exercise routine and the right shoes, the next item on the list is a thirst management plan.

Biggers drinks a gallon of water a day and that is a great way to ensure he stays hydrated during physical activity. It certainly sounds easier than it really is. Water makes up about 70 percent of the muscles, organs and solid tissue in the body and is essential for energy, alertness and good health.

Drinking enough liquids that have little or no sugar on a daily basis is not that simple to do. Researchers have found that the primary cause of fatigue is dehydration. Other causes are excessive heat, sweating, illness, low humidity, diuretics, medication side effects and high elevation.

A study found that 48 percent of older adults admitted into hospitals after treatment showed signs of dehydration. (Infographics courtesy of Society of Certified Senior Advisors.)
A study found that 48 percent of older adults admitted into hospitals after treatment showed signs of dehydration. (Infographics courtesy of Society of Certified Senior Advisors.)

Dehydration is common among infants, children, athletes and the elderly.  Entertainers who push themselves too hard wind up being hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration. In recent news, hip hop artist Smooth Bee was treated for dehydration.

Other celebrities, at some point in their careers, such as Rihanna, Rita Ora, Lady GaGa and Usher have experienced the effects of dehydration.

According to the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), making positive changes to drinking habits and drinking more can improve their quality of life and prevent health problems. The NACC raised awareness about the problem through an initiative “Dehydration in Older People Awareness Week,” which runs from June 6 through 11.

Here are a few of the 36 common signs of dehydration:

• Confusion and irritability

• Constipation

• Difficulty walking

• Dizziness or headaches

• Dry and sticky mouth

• Dry skin

• Inability to sweat or produce tears

• Low blood pressure

• Rapid heart rate

• Sunken eyes

• Thirst

• Unconsciousness or delirium

• Dark yellow urine

• Muscle cramps

I am guilty of not drinking enough water.  On many occasions, I would begin to feel the symptoms of dehydration and wanted more low caloric options rather than plain water. I found a do-it-yourself solution with SodaStream.

Americans – adults and children – still do not hydrate adequately. (Infographics courtesy of SodaStream)
Americans – adults and children – still do not hydrate adequately.
(Infographics courtesy of SodaStream)

Using tap water or unsweetened coconut water, in three simple steps, I can transform it into a healthy sparkling water with a flavor of my choice.

Studies show that flavors and carbonation makes drinking water more enjoyable and on average 43 percent more water and water-based drinks are consumed on a daily basis.

The easy-to-operate SodaStream includes a plastic BPA-free or glass reusable carbonating bottle that eliminates the waste of plastic bottles or cans. I shared with Biggers the SodaStream product information, healthy recipes and its collaboration with the American Diabetes Association. He is rethinking his daily ritual of a gallon of plain water and three sports drinks and embracing a no-brainer way to keep his kids hydrated.

MarieLemelle2016

Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to healthmatters@wavepublication.com and look for her column in The Wave.