Health & Fitness

By Lisa Panzariello

The beauty of charity walk, runs, and bike rides is that while helping others, you’re also helping yourself get in shape. The downside of such events is that the sun is usually scarring your skin for life, you pulled a hamstring because you stretched too hard, and you’re dehydrated because all your water is finished minutes before arriving at the starting line. There is no reason to suffer the heat while raising money for an important cause.

Here in New York City, The Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour is kicking off on October 16 at 7:30 sharp, starting at South Street Seaport, and ending at Chelsea Piers. Last year, they raised an impressive 2.3 million dollars to help aid New Yorkers with MS. This year, they’re hoping to fund 2.7 million dollars, which will help not only the people who suffer from this disease, but also the family members. The money that the MS bike tour raises will also go towards advanced MS research. Another bike tour south of the Metropolitan will take place in Asheville, North Carolina to help children with Juvenile type I diabetes. This bike tour is extended to an entire weekend of bike riding along the Appalachian Mountains from October 6-9. This is the fifth year that this bike tour is a national event, and it not only attracts the Lance Armstrongs of bike riding, but beginners are also happily welcomed. In the first year, there were only 25 members who rode for Juvenile diabetes, and now there’s a whopping 200 members expected at this year’s event.

If you’re going to participate in a bike tour, remember what your mama said, and apply the safety first rule. A helmet is first and foremost paramount, and times have changed since they were first approached as a necessity in the eighties. Now, one can purchase a stylish and even safer helmet. Obviously, they should fit your head where it’s not too tight, but too loose, and just like Goldie Locks said, it should be just right. In fact, the ladies can ride with more feminine flair in a decorative helmet, which have flower bordering it. You can find a few at www.thesportsauthority.com.

In order to keep your hands from sweating thanks to the heat, bike gloves are essential, especially if you’re traveling for an extended amount of time. The fingers should be exposed for a tight grip; however, the palms should be lined with leather to keep from sweating. It would also help if the gloves itself are waterproof such as the Harbinger Paddle Cycle Train Gloves. Of course, in all outdoor sports, whether it’s walking to the neighbor’s house, or bike riding around the Appalachian Mountains, skin care is extremely important. Keep sunscreen with you at all times. Thankfully, various companies make them small enough for travel, and outdoor sporting. Personally, I am a fan of Coppertone’s Endless Summer Ultrasheer Sunscreen Stick in SPF 30. It’s oil free, so the usual sunscreen glow isn’t necessary, it also does not have a potent smell, and it’s small enough to carry in my purse, or my back pocket.

If bike riding is not your thing, or you simply don’t know how to ride one, but still want to raise money, then a walk or run fundraiser is a popular, and less challenging alternative. For instance, The Cure Autism Now (CAN) Foundation is sponsoring a walk for all parts of the Country. On September 25, if you’re in the Seattle area and feel the itch to raise some money for Autism, which is more prevalent than it ever has been, this is a prime cause. It has funded over $20 million dollars in research since its beginning in 1995. Their main approach of the walk is for families, scientists, and researchers to help spread the awareness of this growing disorder all over the country. Approximately 400 people per year show up for the event, with each year hoping to attract even more walkers.

Water is probably the most valuable of factors in attending a physical fundraiser for both walk or bike ride. Luckily, for bike riders, they can carry their water on the bikes with a simple, but very useful pocket that attaches to the base of the bike. Another more modern device is the Camelbak Rogue-2L Hydration Pack, which can also be found at www.thesportsauthority.com. This lightweight backpack will store up to 3 hours of hydration for longer bike rides, which is extremely handy for weekend rides. Walkers on the other hand, have no choice but to either carry, or use a pack to carry all their needs. Nathan X recently came out with a nifty device called the Trainer Plus Waist Pak, which provides its own 22 oz water bottle, which has easy access when walking. It also has tiny pockets for such items as mini sunscreen.

Sneakers should be just like the helmets, not too tight, but the right fit. If you’re walking, they should have enough give, and an airy feeling when you walk for the most desirable comfort. Nike an New Balance seem to be the most popular brands, however, for men, Adidas just came out with the Clima Cool Response Cushioning Running Shoe, which is equipped with a 360 degree cooling system, with additional airflow and ventilation all around the foot while running or walking. For women, one of The Sports Authorities top sellers is the Mizuno Wave Rider 8 Cushioning Running Shoe. This shoe provides fantastic stability and has incredible flexibility for the foot for an accelerated walking performance.

Getting in shape is not as hard as people think. Sometimes it doesn’t require going to the gym and sweating profusely on a treadmill for an hour while going nowhere. Fighting a disease and getting in shape together could be the adrenaline rush you’ve been looking for all this time. So, what are you waiting for? Find a particular cause you’re passionate about and do what you can to help raise some deniero!

Originally published August 2005
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