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WTF? Dirty Words Are Good for Your Health

WTF? Dirty Words Are Good for Your Health
Ah, #$@! it. We all know cursing is a social landmine, but sometimes—when you bang your elbow, are having a bad day, or maybe even had a teensy bit too much to drink—you unleash a blue streak that could cause the heavens to weep. But is it as good for your health as say, a long, mind-clearing run , meditating with the Dalai Lama orbrain-calming exercises?

It's true, according to some very interesting research that shows swearing may actually be good for you. In a study, participants who swore while submerging their hand in ice water were able to endure the pain longer than those who didn't or simply uttered non-curse words.

Interesting indeed. And while it doesn't give you license to start talking like a salty sailor, the research does reveal a rather crucial element of the way our brains perceive pain , and at the very lease, helps make us feel less guilty when the occasional profanity slips out.

Scientists believe that there is a deep, psychological reason that swearing is our instinctive response to a stubbed toe or banged forehead. They found that expletives actually tie into a different part of the brain than other language -- the primal, emotional side that also controls our survivalist and defensive reflexes.

And that's good news. We have a wonderful (and, let's face it, kinda fun) way to cope that, it turns out, is as natural as our fight-or-flight instincts. But what about all that other swearing? You know, the kind that's really rude, thrown around in schools, comedy clubs, or from the mouths of angry drivers during rush hour?

There's no denying that harmless venting (the operative word being harmless), social bonding, and a few good laughs are good for us, too. But angry swearing can be hurtful, and overusing it can actually reverse its benefits. The study also found that the more you swear, the less it's tied to your emotion responses. Without emotion, the word loses its power .

How I Knew It was Time To Start Taking Prozac

Cereal, milk, gummy vitamin.
Toast, OJ, vitamins, Prozac.

As I laid out our respective breakfasts, my inquisitive 4-year-old glanced at the pile of pills on my placemat.

"What's that one?" she asked, her mouth full of Cheerios.

"Vitamin D. It helps keep me healthy, especially in winter."

"And that one?"

"Fish oil. It's good for my hair, my nails, and my brain."

"What about the little white one?" She pointed to the tiny anti-depressant. I paused.

"That's also for my brain. It ... it helps me."

What I couldn't say to my daughter — yet — was that that little anti-depressant has made it possible for me to love being a stay-at-home mother. 

Related: How I handle motherhood and depression

I have been fortunate enough to be a SAHM for almost five years. During that time I've struggled with many common SAHM identity crises: Who am I if I'm not employed? Will I be able to get a job when my kids don't need me so much? What legacy will I leave behind besides my children? And then, last year, I added a new one: Am I depressed because I am a stay-at-home mother? And if that's true, what are my options?

When I made the decision to stay home with my first daughter over five years ago, it felt like the only right decision for me. But last year, five years into being a SAHM, there I was, depressed. Getting a job — something I plan on doing when my children are older — seemed like an obvious solution. I seriously considered it, having done it before, when my first child was a toddler. But I didn't want to miss this time with my kids, and I feared it would lead to having the worst of both worlds — straddling home and work and not excelling in either.

Other times I wondered if all I really needed was respect for what I do. If at-home motherhood was an esteemed profession, surely I would feel great about my choice, right? But in my suburban bubble, where privileged mothers expend enormous energy trying to be worthy of their precious children, elevation of motherhood to a profession is a double-edged sword. Of course we deserve respect for all we do, as there can be few jobs as relentless, demanding, messy, and important as stay-at-home motherhood. But by making it a profession are we placing too much pressure on ourselves — not to mention our children — to excel at something that is implicitly riddled with imperfection? 

Related: Pregnant and already a "bad mom"? The stigma of prenatal depression

For me, the fractured nature of primary caregiving — with its constant interruptions, the inherent inability to focus on one's own needs, and numerous demands often made by two screaming little people — was the perfect recipe for depression. Or maybe it just revealed how perilously close to the edge I've always been.

On good days, I dreamed up crafts, constructed obstacle courses, researched behavior issues, cooked healthy meals, and spent lots of time on the floor, just being with my children. I felt honored and so very fortunate to be their first teacher, their best advocate, their primary everything. On bad days, and there were many in the last year, I barely played with my kids, sneaked excessive amounts of reading and chocolate, and basically felt like the entire day was a race to the solace of bedtime.

Admittedly, the last few years have been unusually stressful: we lost two family members suddenly, moved across the country for my husband's career, had a second child, and watched my dad battle through arduous cancer treatments. Though I've always required extra emotional care during times of stress, I've also always been able to pull myself through dark moods, until this past year when I tipped over some invisible edge into Not Coping. I began to lose my temper with my children with terrifying intensity and regularity. At night, I wept with defeat and lashed out at my husband when he tried to help. I experimented with every remedy that worked for me in the past — weekly talk therapy and extra fish oil, more sleep and less sugar, calming yoga and purifying cardio — before I finally turned to something I never thought I'd need: Prozac.

I am the type of person who drinks water and stretches my neck for a headache rather than pop a pill, and never before had I considered taking psychopharmaceuticals (which I thought were important and necessary — for other people). But for my kids, I would do, I would try, anything. 

Related: Anti-depressants and pregnancy — is it safe to medicate?

Even when I finally saw a doctor, I was hesitant to label myself "depressed," as I didn't want to adopt a serious diagnosis — and swallow equally serious medication — when maybe what I really needed was a room of my own for my problem that has no name. Mostly, though, I was in denial, still clinging to one-dimensional Psych 101 images of a depressed person unable to get out of bed. I thought I knew what depression was and I was sure I didn't have it.

My doctor listened to me carefully, asked some pointed questions about my sleeping, eating, and moods before pointing out the obvious: depression doesn't always look like my narrow imagination assumed. It isn't always being unable to get out of bed; it can be getting out of bed muttering obscenities before the day has even begun. It can be clenched teeth and yelling too quickly and tearful apologies. My depression rendered me a very unhappy SAHM. My doctor said: "When other coping strategies aren't working, it's time to call in the big guns. Your family deserves it. You deserve it."

While I've never really figured out what exactly brought on my depression, what I do know is this drug helps me immensely. On even the lowest dose, I am a better SAHM; my fuse is noticeably longer, my mood is buoyed and joyful, I am much calmer with my children. I still have moments of frustration, of course, but I can breathe them away, no teeth clenching, no scary yelling, no tearful apologies needed. This can only be a good thing — for all of us. 

- By Jenna Marshall 

Are You Secretly a Stress Junkie?

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

By Martha Beck

Like most recovering addicts, I clearly remember the moment I finally hit bottom. I'd been strung out for months: sleepless, poorly nourished and hollow-eyed, but still manically active. No matter how dilapidated my body became, my favorite chemicals could always make me feel fine. Until one day, they couldn't. Hello, my name is Martha, and I'm a stress junkie.

RELATED: Take the Stress Detector Test

Stress Abuse
Stress junkies are people who, without even knowing it, use their own physiological responses as a mood-altering device. When we perceive ourselves to be in a threatening situation, we have specific reactions designed to help us either run like hell or battle for our lives: Our blood pressure increases (rushing extra oxygen to the muscles) and our digestive processes slow down (preserving energy).

Naturally, there's a catch. Just like heroin or aerosol fumes, stress hormones have side effects that can kill you. Pumped into the bloodstream at high levels for long periods of time, these chemicals contribute to ulcers and heart disease, weaken the immune system, and leave us vulnerable to everything from automobile accidents to depression.

RELATED: What Would it Take for You to Be Still?

Pick Your Poison
Stress junkies indulge their habit in any number of different ways. My favorite methods include procrastination, perfectionism, obsessing about obligations, and inventing catastrophic fantasies about What Could Go Wrong. If this sounds like you, it may be time to examine your own addictive tendencies. But even if you're as unflappable as a Zen master, you're still dealing with stress junkies every day. There's your office manager who freaks out over every hitch in the workday. There's the friend who broods obsessively about appalling current events: terrorism, child abusers, killer bees—terrorism committed by child abusers using killer bees.

The common factor that links these very different personalities is their single-minded devotion to repeatedly creating specific kinds of upsetting situations. Why would anyone do such a thing? There are several very powerful reasons:

RELATED: How to Manage Your Energy

The emotional geyser effect: Most stress junkies have unhealed emotional wounds. The unresolved pain remains stuck in a sort of holding tank, filling it up until there is little or no space left. An explosion of anger or tears, like a geyser eruption, lessens internal pressure so that the addict can function until the pressure builds up again.

The anxiety diversion tactic: Creating stress is an excellent way to avoid dealing with the frightening tasks necessary for personal growth. Safe in the familiar cocoon of these stresses, we become gratifyingly numb to the uncomfortable knowledge that we need to take on deeper, more significant challenges.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Reduce Stress

The love hunt: This is a common syndrome for people who, in their formative years, never received much positive attention unless they were sick or hurt. Associating love with stress, they find a way to feel victimized whenever they want an emotional connection.

Stress-Junkie Rehab
These examples should help you see that, as paradoxical as it seems, stress can be a sanctuary. The problem is that as time goes by, the stress hormones and behaviors that once created fearlessness or euphoria become ineffective, then counterproductive. Take it from me: Even if you're only mildly addicted to stress, it's best to get into rehab now. You'll find the compulsion to fret becomes much less severe if you employ the following strategies:

RELATED: How to Deal Coolly with Everyday Disasters

Let yourself go. Indulge your desire to flee by running or walking quickly, and you'll find yourself calmer about everything. If your stress reaction is anger, punching and kicking are wonderfully salubrious, even if you're just shadowboxing.

Give in to your stress. Most stress junkies try to break their habit by telling themselves, Stay calm, dammit! This is like trying to put out a fire with gunpowder. A simple acknowledgment like "I'm scared and that's okay" eliminates the escalating response caused by resisting those feelings.

RELATED: Energy-Restoring Mantras to Get You Through the Day

Care for the worried one. Try welcoming your worried heart as you would a traumatized guest. Ask yourself, Why are you in pain? How can I help? The attitude of kindness will go a long way toward breaking the addiction.

By giving our stress-addicted side permission to act, to feel, and to receive care, we establish what we were after all along: a sanctuary where our wounds can heal and we can hear the voice of our true self. We grow calmer. We become a force for peace, instead of panic, not only for ourselves, but for everyone whose life touches ours.

Professional men's soccer team signs 7-year-old kid

I'll say this for the managers of Spanish soccer team Real Madrid: they've got some balls. You know, the black and white ones that you kick around with your feet? Although, come to think of it, signing 7-year-old Leonel Coira to play for one of the world's preeminent football clubs takes some chutzpah. And as much as it pains me to say this: next to signing the one and only David Beckham, this may rank up there as one of their smartest moves yet.

More from The StirThis is What a Stay at Home Mom Does All Day

It sounds crazy. I even said it was crazy myself when my husband the soccer blogger broached the topic. But take a look at little Leo's (he goes by the nickname of his hero, Lionel Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona) YouTube channel, and the kid has some wicked ball skills. He may not be FIFA ready, but the Argentine-born tot is not your average 7-year-old.

The idea that he may one day BE another Messi, or even a Beckham, isn't that far-fetched. It's a game that requires a spark of talent that's nurtured. Start focusing on skills at 7, and by 19, Coira could be untouchable. That's what he can get from the team by signing now rather than waiting 10 years -- top-notch training, the kind only a professional football club can provide.

Not convinced? OK, I was still on the fence. Then I saw the Coira contract is just for one year. He'll be playing with Real's "Benjamin" Club, a group of kids under 9, for one year. If he doesn't keep up, he gets cut. If his skills develop on par with the club's expectations, they can re-up. Real is, after all, a business. They aren't going to keep dead weight on their payroll.

More from The Stir5 Most Dreaded Places To Take My Children

Put it that way, and a team taking a chance on a 7-year-old is no different than hiring a child actor for one movie. If they bomb, they don't get called back for the sequel. If they fare well, they get booked again. And their parents have the opportunity to pull them out of the whole shebang if they see their kid wilting under the pressure.

Is 7 too young to sign with a soccer club? Or is this the best way to nurture a child's talent?

Sweatiquette: Your Answers to Common Exercise Etiquette Questions

Have you ever wondered about how to handle sticky situations at the gym, in yoga class, or when exercising outdoors? We got expert advice on how to deal with tricky workout issues to avoid an awkward encounter.

Related: The Best Gyms in America for Every Workout

Locker Room Chit Chat

Q. "My boss goes to my gym. Do I say hi or look the other way when I see her half-dressed in the locker room?"

A. The locker room isn't the place for drawn-out conversations or loitering in your skivvies. "Make eye contact, say 'Hello' and 'Nice to see you' and continue getting dressed," recommends Maryanne Blake, a trainer and instructor at the Sports Club/LA in Boston. "Also have a friendly exit strategy in place. For example, 'I'd love to catch up with you. Maybe we could talkafter Spinning?' You'll keep awkward moments to a minimum without seeming rude."

Related: 7 Ways to Find a Fitness Buddy

Wacky Workout Wear

Q. "A guy in my abs class wears short shorts. It's not pretty when he does crunches. What can I do?"

A. "Your best bet is to move across the room," says Jennifer Galardi, fitness instructor at Equinox Fitness Clubs and Crunch in New York City. (BTW, gym-goers take Galardi's classes in bikini tops, hot pants, you name it.) There's not much you or a trainer can do unless the unfortunate eyeful is truly inappropriate. If that's the case, ask a gym manager to speak to the exhibitionist. In the meantime, "Don't let someone else's outfit -- or lack thereof -- distract you," Galardi says. Try to focus on your form, not his.

Related: The Short Shorts Workout Plan

Friendly Runners

Q. "Is it rude not to say hi to every runner or walker I pass on my neighborhood route?

A. "During a track workout or race, no one expects you to be talkative. But during your regular morning workout, it's good etiquette to make eye contact, smile, and say hello," says Vince Digneo, founder and head coach of Tattersols, a women's running and racing team based in Stanford, California. If you're out of breath or passing tons of people, a simple smile and friendly nod go along way.

Related: Run a Half Marathon in 8 Weeks

Weighty Talk

Q. "My friend gloats about her recent weight loss. How do I shut her up?"

 She may be boasting because she feels insecure, but it's annoying to hear about it over and over. Steer the conversation in a new direction: Acknowledge her success, then change the subject by asking "How's your family?" or "What's new at work?" suggests Judith Matz, a clinical social worker and coauthor of The Diet Survivor's Handbook. If she circles back to weight talk, be up-front and tell her it's getting tedious, Matz says. Explain that you're glad she's proud of herself but you would rather talk about other things, like the great yoga class you just took.

Related: See How Long It Takes to Lose 10 Pounds

Stomach Talk

Q. "My stomach sometimes gets upset when I work out. How do I avoid stinking up the gym?"

 "Don't eat a big meal within two to three hours of working out," says Anish Sheth, MD, a gastroenterologist at Yale and coauthor of What's Your Poo Telling You? Exercise, especially a cardio workout, stimulates your GI tract. So eat a low-fat, lower-fiber snack (try an energy bar) about an hour before to fuel up without inducing digestion problems, and hit the bathroom pre-gym. If you still find yourself running to the locker room for relief, stash our fave new find in your gym bag: Poo-Pourri ($9.95 for a two-ounce bottle, Spray the bowl before you go, and a barrier of essential oils prevents any funky smells from leaving the scene.

Related: The Best 7 Foods for Runners

Awkward Locker Room Encounters

Q. "An acquaintance keeps trying to talk to me when she's naked in the gym locker room. Where should I look?"

A. Make a lot of eye contact, suggests Erich Schuttauf, executive director for the American Association of Nude Recreation. (Nudists do this to stay focused when they're chatting with in-the-buff-buddies.) That way, you won't get distracted by her odd-looking outie or supersize...well, you know. If you just can't bear all that skin, excuse yourself when she comes over by saying, "I'll leave so you can get dressed/take a shower/etc." Hopefully she'll get the hint.

Related: Summer Skin Rehab

Strategic Padding

Q. "It's so cold in my gym that goose bumps aren't the only things popping out. How can I turn off the 'headlights'?"

 Nip this problem in the bud with the right sports bra. Seek out one with cups that are slightly padded or made of spacer fabric, a special kind of knit that has two layers with a pocket of cushioning between them. One brand that's superior in high-beam prevention is Moving Comfort ( Or get more coverage from your current bra with Boob-eez, superthin silicone disks that stick to your skin and stay put through a sweaty workout. An extra perk: They're hand washable, so you can reuse them ($12 to $18,

Related: The Best Sports Bras for Your Size

Sweat Stains

Q: "
Help! I'm embarrassed by my crotch sweat marks. What can I do?"

 Stop the waterworks without dialing down your intensity, says professor of exercise science and FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, PhD.

Step 1: Loosen up. Choose looser bottoms (they won't cling to you-know-where) with wick-action fabric. Look for a built-in panty patch to absorb moisture.
Step 2: Powder down. Sprinkle an absorbent, talc-free powder, such as Vagisil Deodorant Powder, into the crotch of your bottoms before you put them on.
Step 3: Assume the position. Snag a cardio machine near a fan, and angle the breeze toward your lower body rather than your face

Related: No-Sweat Summer Hair


Quick Adjustments

Q. "How do I discreetly pick a wedgie when I work out?"

A. Move to the back of the class or near a wall to put everything back where it belongs. If you get any strange looks, say "Just need to readjust!" says Doris Pooser, coauthor of Always in Style. "To prevent wedgies in the first place, ditch cotton panties and look for those made with nylon and a stretchy fabric, including elastine or spandex," Pooser suggests; try Lululemon Athletica's Smooth Moves Girlshort ($18, or the Under Armour Women's Active Boy Short ($19.99,

12 Ways to Get the Most out of Any Workout

12 Ways to Get the Most out of Any Workout

Who doesn't want to get maximum benefits from minimum workout time? Truth is, you can get more muscle-strengthening bang for every rep by doing one simple thing: paying attention to your form. Plus, you'll cut your risk of strains, sprains, and tweaks. Another truth: Good form is way more important than how fast you move or how sweaty you get. Here are 12 ways to be smart about strength training, from RealAge experts Mehmet Oz, MD, and Michael Roizen, MD:

1. Think Botox. Keep your face relaxed, smooth, and tension-free, not squeezed into creases. Need help? Try these stress-reducing techniques.
2. Look out at eye level. Looking forward, not down, keeps the back of your head lined up with your spine, so you don't strain your neck.
3. Relax those hunched shoulders. Drop 'em as low as they will comfortably go, pulling your shoulder blades back slightly while you do it, away from your ears. Between sets, unkink your shoulders by rolling them forward five times and back five times.
4. Lift your chest up and out slightly. Slightly. Not into a military stance with your chest thrust out.
5. Lengthen your spine. Imagine a string pulling the top of your head up toward the ceiling.
6. Keep the arch. Pull in your belly button without tilting your hips; it helps maintain the natural arch of your lower back. It should feel relaxed, not exaggerated. (Do this every time you do any physical activity.)
7. Tighten your abs. They support your lower back. (Get psyched to shape up and slim down at the Real Age Workout Center.)
8. Don't lock your knees. Keep them slightly bent and pointed in the same direction as your toes.
9. Don't lock your elbows. As with your knees, keep your elbows relaxed and slightly bent.
10. Straighten your wrists. No bending at this vulnerable joint. Keep wrists firm unless you're specifically doing exercises to strengthen them.
11. Breathe. Holding your breath while strength training pushes your blood pressure up slightly. It's safer -- and you'll have more power -- if you exhale as you lift or do a strenuous move, sucking in your abs to force air out. Inhale as you lower the weight, relaxing your lower abs and filling your lungs as you expand your chest.
12. Keep moving between exercises. Keeping your heart rate up adds aerobic benefits to your weight work.

Build a better body with this 20-minute workout.

As you get stronger, do a little more. Add more reps or use slightly heavier weights. Again, slightly is key.

What's your fave strength-training workout, and why? Free weights? Resistance machines? Resistance bands? Your own body weight?

Is Calcium Bad for You?

You should be getting your calcium from your food. Find out why.

You should be getting your calcium from your food. Find out why.

What you've always heard

Calcium is good — especially for women, who can lose as much as 20 percent of their bone mass in the decade after menopause. The mineral can help prevent osteoporosis and has also been linked to better blood pressure, lower risk of colorectal cancer, and easier weight loss.

What headlines are saying now

Calcium might be bad for your heart, at least if you get it from a pill. A recent analysis of seven years of data from more than 36,000 postmenopausal women found that starting daily supplements (1,000 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D) increased the risk of heart problems by up to 22 percent. The numbers were a shock: When combined with other data, they suggest that if 1,000 people began taking calcium supplements, the pills would prevent three fractures — but cause six heart attacks or strokes.

What to do

Calcium supplements have lost some of their luster (though no one doubts the benefits of high-calcium foods). What's more, it seems that people are doing a better job of getting the mineral in their diet than previously thought. To keep your bones strong and your body healthy, do lots of weight-bearing exercise and eat plenty of produce and low-fat dairy, says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health. And get enough vitamin D (it helps you absorb calcium). The bottom line according to Aurelia Nattiv, MD, director of the UCLA Osteoporosis Center: The best way to get calcium is through food — and if a supplement is needed, most people should take no more than 600 mg daily.

The Top 7 Foods for Runners

For runners, food does more than just squelch hunger. It also fuels your muscles and keeps you healthy.

"Runners need quality foods that provide a 'spark plug' for their energy," says Nancy Clark, RD, MS, and author of the Food Guide for Marathoners. These seven "elite" foods for runners will help you feel your best -- and keep you up and running.


If you need a carb-packed energy-booster before an afternoon run, it's hard to go wrong with a banana. A bonus: Bananas contain loads of potassium, which regulates blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.

Try these healthy recipes:

Small Bagel with Peanut Butter

If you're a morning runner, you know it can be tough to hit the road on an empty stomach. It's been several hours since your last meal the night before, and your energy stores are low. Eating a 100- to 300-calorie snack before your morning run can give you energy and staying power, says Clark. Thisquick-and-easy snack has carbs and protein, plus it's easy to digest.


Your legs can take a pounding from high-impact activities like running;soreness you feel after a hard run may be caused by micro-tears in the exercised muscles. That's why, in addition to their high fiber content, berries are a good option for runners: the vitamin C and potassium they contain help the body repair itself.

Try these healthy recipes:

This nutritional powerhouse has vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals, all key for peak performance and health, says Clark.

Try these healthy recipes:

Low-Fat Yogurt

Running and other weight-bearing exercise can help you improve your bone density. But calcium is essential part of the equation, and many runners don't get enough. One cup of yogurt contains a third of your recommended daily intake of calcium. Plus, yogurt has protein -- important for building muscle and recovering from tough workouts.

Try these healthy recipes:

Lean Beef

In addition to being a quality protein source, beef is high in iron, an especially important element for runners. (Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue.) For vegetarians, beans, peas, green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals are good sources of iron.

Try these healthy recipes:

Wild Salmon

In addition to being a good protein source, salmon contains loads of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which can counteract inflammation and fend off disease.

Heat Wave in 20 States: 3 Ways Hot Weather Messes with Your Health (Plus How to Stay Safe)

Conde Nast Digital Studio

Conde Nast Digital Studio

Amy Paturel, SELF magazine

Americans are hot, sweaty and cranky this week as a heat wave sweeps through at least 20 states. But do you really know how the extreme weather affects your health?

Here's the thing: While kids, the elderly and pregnant women (in the third trimester) are often at the highest risk, according to physician assistant Amy Hendel, anyone is susceptible if they ignore the following warning signs.

1. Excessive sweating: When your body is exposed to heat, its natural response is to sweat to help you cool down. Gross, we know, but it's necessary! Want to avoid heat-related complications? Replace that "lost water" by rehydrating with water and, depending on how much you're sweating, a beverage with electrolytes. (You know that salty taste on your skin when you sweat? It's because your body is losing sodium and other electrolytes.)

Related: Yoga Moves for Flat Abs

2. Heat cramps: If you stop sweating because of prolonged heat combined with dehydration, that's when the risk for complications begins. You'll begin to experience sweating, fatigue, thirst and muscle cramps, says Hendel, author of The 4 Habits of Healthy Families. Left untreated, these cramps will evolve into headaches, dizziness, additional weakness, nausea and vomiting, and the skin may begin to feel cool and moist.

3. Heat stroke: If you've passed through the above stages and still haven't rehydrated or cooled down, then you're likely to develop heat stroke. Yikes! You may experience a fever (which can go above 104 degrees), irrational behavior, confusion, rapid breathing, seizures, hot/red skin, a weak pulse and finally unconsciousness. It's not pretty!

See Also: Gwyneth Paltrow's Arm and Abs Workout

So how do you protect yourself? Here's Hendel's list of Do's and Don'ts:

-    Get into the shade or a cool, darker place.
-    If you're in an early stage, sip on a sports drink or electrolyte-based water or juice.
-    Lie down and raise your feet, so more blood is reaching the heart and brain.
-    Apply cool compresses to your forehead, back of the neck, armpits and groin area.
-    If you're suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 911.


-    Do not treat the fever like a traditional fever with aspirin or acetaminophen.
-    Never use caffeinated or alcoholic drinks as hydration.
-    Never administer salt tablets -- the salt or electrolytes should be in water.
-    Never underestimate how quickly cramps can turn into heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

5 Ways to Stay Hydrated on a Long-Distance Run

It's been a hot summer. In fact, there's a heat wave heading toward the East coast this week. But no matter where you live, it's important to stay hydrated. It's especially important to stay hydrated if you're putting in an intense workout, such as running. So, we asked our readers to tell us how they stay hydrated when they run. Here's what they had to say about their favorite ways to stay hydrated during a long-distance run.

1. Carry a camelbak: Anita trains for races like Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with herCamelBak (try the Charm 50 oz pack). "The water tube is so easy to grab off your shoulder and take a quick drink," she says. "Your run isn't interrupted at all." Try our running playlist for your own Rock 'n' Roll race.

2. Tap into free water: For Kathe, running is a great way to see her city, New York. She's tried lots of the water belts but prefers to carry a bottle and take advantage of the city's TapIt program. The website lists caf├ęs throughout the city that welcome anyone passing by to fill their water bottle with tap water.

RELATED: Surprising Sweat Myths

3. Join the club: Maureen often runs Chicago's Lake Shore Drive Path with running groups that offer group water stops along the way. "But I've been in a few situations where part of a group gets lost or I get nervous about how far apart water stops are," she says, so she brings her Fuel Belt just in case.

4. Tote your bottle:
 Tracie trains for half-marathons using a small water bottle with a hand-strap (the one shown here is from North Face). Her favorite race: the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. "You end at Coney Island and can jump in the ocean and then get a beer and a hot dog after the race!" Try our Half-Marathon Training Guide.

RELATED: Get Leaner, Longer Legs  Faster!

5. Pave your way: Nora's hydration method requires trustworthy neighbors. She places water bottles along her running route before setting off. It must work: Here, she's receiving her medal after completing her first full marathon in Disney World. Get more marathon running tips.