Health & Family

Stay hydrated in summer heat

Summertime brings many opportunities for outdoor activity, but exercising in heat and humidity for prolonged periods of time can overtax the body.

We all know how important it is to avoid dehydration, especially when exercising in extreme temperatures.

Our bodies lose fluids when we perspire, and we normally replace these to some extent, but our normal intake may not be enough to compensate for extra fluid loss when sweating is profuse. Your body is cooled mainly through the evaporation of sweat.

When humidity is high, perspiration stays on the skin and does not evaporate as easily. This can cause your body's core temperature to reach dangerous levels, setting you up for trouble. Here are some things to consider:

Water or sports drink?

Water is the best choice when it comes to normal fluid loss, that is, when going about everyday activities like running errands, housecleaning and other routine tasks.

Consuming sports drinks is generally recommended as a suitable fluid replacement in cases where physical activity is of long duration (generally more than one hour) or where there is excessive sweating. With sweating, the body loses salts and other valuable minerals, which must to be replaced. In this case, a sports drink can be a good idea.

Whey to go

Whey is a protein-rich liquid component of milk, produced as a byproduct of the cheese-making process.

Whey protein has been called the ultimate functional food, and is used as a key ingredient in many pre-and post-workout drinks and shakes to help promote adequate muscle recovery and repair. Designer Whey is one of the most popular and recognized brands of this type, with ready-to-drink products as well as easy-to-mix powders.

Energy drinks

There is much controversy as to whether energy drinks are safe.

Energy drinks are typically carbonated beverages that contain stimulants such as caffeine, certain herbs and other ingredients, and high amounts of sugar, although sugar-free energy drinks are now available. Caffeine is a diuretic, which increases fluid loss and accelerates the rate of urination.

Many conditions may cause rapid and continued fluid loss, but the leading causes of dehydration are failure to consume enough fluids, fever, excessive heat exposure and prolonged and/or intense exercise.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration can range from minor to severe. Often, headaches and fatigue are side effects of dehydration. Others include:

Increased thirst.

Dry mouth and swollen tongue.

Weakness, dizziness.

Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding).

Confusion.

Inability to sweat.

Decreased urine output, or urine that is concentrated and a deep yellow or amber color may be indications of dehydration.

Infants and small children are more likely to become dehydrated than older children or most adults. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65. Symptoms can be similar to senile dementia symptoms, age dementia symptoms and Alzheimer's symptoms.

Older individuals often have a reduced sense of thirst and may not be getting enough fluids through the foods they eat.

Heather Hedrick, M.S., R.D. and author of the “Absolute Beginner's Guide to Half-Marathon Training,” has offered the following guidelines to help promote optimal hydration:

Drink at least 8-12 cups (8 ounces) of fluid daily.

Drink 2 to 3 cups of fluid about two to three hours before exercise, and another cup about 10 to 20 minutes before the workout

Drink at least one cup of fluid every 10-20 minutes during exercise.

After exercise, a general rule is to consume 2-3 cups of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.

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