Heat, hydration and exercise

It’s still early in the day and it’s already hot outside.  And when its hot outside we need to be even more aware of our hydration needs particularly when it comes to exercise. 

We all know that water is one of the most essential components of the human body.  About 75 percent of all muscle tissue and 10 percent of fatty tissue are composed of water – that’s why water is essential in maintaining lean tissue and in weight management.  Water is vital to regulating the body’s temperature, cushioning and protecting the body’s vital organs and aiding in the digestive system.  It also acts within each cell to transport nutrients and dispel waste.  It is simply impossible to sustain life for more than a few days without it!

The NIH’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends that women consume 2.7 liters (91 oz) daily and men consume 3.7 liters (125 oz) through various beverages (80%) or in food (20%).

Active individuals need even more, particularly if they’re exercising in hot weather. This is especially important during the 24 hours prior to vigorous exercise. You can meet your body’s water needs over the course of a day through a variety of fluids and foods including juices, smoothies,  tea, lemonade, soups, fruits and vegetables (just remember the extra calories associated with each fluid or food).   BTW, coffee does not compromise your hydration levels, contrary to popular belief, and moderate caffeine may enhance your performance.

If you exercise on a regular basis maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential to performance. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance. 

In a dehydrated state the body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps. 

To prevent dehydration, exercisers should drink when they are thirsty and any time before, during and after the workout.

The American Council on Exercise offers these helpful tips:

·         Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise.

·         Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up.

·         Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.

·         Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.

·         Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise. 

Stay cool and hydrated!

Chris Clough