23: Staying Cool Under a Wig

Heat rash isn’t fun. Nor is heat stroke, fainting spells or fatigue so profound you feel like sleeping the day away.  There’s a lot to be said for just going without a wig when exercising in the heat, all of which would make this blog post and the associated vlog moot points.  However, given that I for one am not there yet in my level of self-confidence, because I don’t want my head getting burned, AND because I’ve suffered through said heat rash, heat stroke, fatigue and dizziness after exercising outside, I offer the following summer exercise advice:

  1. Hydrate! It goes without saying that hydration is the number one thing to do when it’s hot and/or sunny for before, during and after a workout.  Those among us who have hair on their heads need to drink 7-10 ounces of water or energy supplement every 15-20 minutes to replenish the electrolytes and fluid lost when exercising.  Over the course of a six-mile run that’s a lot!  Now, consider how much you sweat when you’re wearing a sheet of mesh and silicone on your head and you can appreciate how important it is for us alopecians to have water and our favorite energy at the ready.


  1. Be mindful of your level of intensity when working out. If you’re a lightning bolt on that six-mile run when it’s 55 degrees outside don’t expect your legs to carry you with the same level of speed or endurance when the temperature shifts to 75 or 85 degrees.  When temps rise shorten your outside workout for a few days to give your body time to adjust and gradually build your endurance for both distance and heat stress.


  1. Be aware of the heat and humidity. Our bodies, miracles that they are, don’t work so efficiently when there’s water in the air.  Sweating buckets doesn’t mean your body’s cooling off, it means it’s getting dehydrated.  In the sprit of sweating like a lady, take note of the time of day and the conditions in which you exercise.  I like working out either early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun and heat are less intense.  I’ve also found routes that are tree-lined and/or bordered by streams where I benefit from the water’s cooling effect on the air around it.


  1. Allow your body to adjust. Our bodies actually increase their own blood volume when they’re continuously exposed to heat.  Why?  Because the body has figured out that increased blood volume enables itself to cool off more efficiently.  My own research on the topic tells me that within 7-10 days of working out in warmer temps will bring the body to the same level of sweating efficiency it had before temps shifted from spring to summer.    Yay!


  1. When shopping for or building a wig, get breathable cap material. The wigs I have, though dark, are designed to allow my noggin to emit the maximum amount of heat.  This feature is very important not only because I naturally get hot when I exercise, but also because I have dark hair.  And I don’t care what anyone says about how black/dark colors “reflect heat.”  The aforementioned physical issues I’ve dealt with whilst wearing my very dark wig tell a much different story.  This increased heat just magnifies the feeling I’ve sometimes had that I could spontaneously combust when working out, thus making the lightest weight wigs most ideal.


  1. Wear the right clothing. You won’t win any medals or impress anyone if you’re dressed in the latest, hottest styles on the outside yet passed out in the dirt because you’re so stinkin’ hot on the inside! Wear lightweight, breathable/wicking, and light-colored clothing.  There’s no shame in donning your favorite threadbare t-shirt from 12 years ago, or looking as though you’re a meditating Buddhist running in white everything.


Sometimes when hiking with my friends I take my shirt off and wrap my head in it, or go without my hair all together.  I’m also experimenting with making my own cap to wear when exercising outside and WILL share those with you when I’ve mastered the design and found the right material.


  1. Know your limits. Above all, be safe so you can be benefit from the exercise you’re giving your body.  Some days just aren’t right to do the level of training or working out you want to do outside.  Gyms and air conditioners are beautiful things, especially if summer where you live is typically marked by a legendary heat index.  No awards are given for the person who sets out to run 10 miles in 96-degree heat and faints of heat exhaustion.  Sometimes it’s a gym day, and that’s totally fine.


  1. Pamper yourself in post-workout replenishment. There’s nothin’ like a cold glass of OJ for me after a long run or bike ride in the sun.  Or a cool shower, or cold glasses of water, or immediately ripping my wig off my head the second I get inside my house.  Generally speaking I’m also careful to eat food that’s not apt to raise my internal body temperature.  Lots of salads, berries, and chilled veggies in my summer menu!

So, with these summer wig-wearing and exercise tips handy start planning your summer adventures and live it up, soak it in, and have a great time!

You can visit the vlog associated with this post here.


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