Proper Hydration: How To Prepare For Summer Activities
With the dog days of summer upon us it’s time to take hydration seriously. We all know that drinking water is important for our everyday health and that staying hydrated is critical for athletes, but what do we need to do when the heat is on?
here’s no shortage of nutrition supplements and sports drinks that tout their hydrating abilities. With so many options available it’s hard to know which one is the best and will work for your needs. Staying properly hydrated before, during and after exercise is one of the single most important steps you can take to feel healthy and happy when being active during the summer. With a little knowledge you can stay ahead of the game and be prepared to tackle any activity outdoors, no matter what the thermometer says.
Hydrate Early and Often
While it’s important for everyone to remain hydrated, it becomes vital for active individuals during the summer season. The key to being prepared for outdoor activity is to hydrate early and often. If you’re properly hydrated before you begin your activity you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and replenish any fluids you’ve lost easier. Of course the nagging question is always, “how much water do I need to drink daily?” One of the easiest ways to determine the amount of water you should be ingesting is to divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. This number is your weight in kilograms as well as how many ounces of water you should be consuming daily. While that number may seem high, keep in mind that a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables can satisfy up to 20% of your fluid needs. Also try to get in the habit of having a glass of water before and with each meal.
Hydration Doesn’t Mean Just Water
We all know that water is the most important fluid for hydration, but it’s not all that you need. There are other vitamins and minerals that aid in the absorption, transport and energy release associated with proper hydration. Before and during exercise focus on eating whole foods that contain sodium, magnesium, potassium and chloride to ensure that your body is able to effectively deliver water where it’s needed. Not only can this be found in many popular energy bars, but is naturally occurring in foods like almonds and bananas. These important nutrients, along with the right amount of water will hydrate your body and keep you feeling good the next time you head out the door.
Proper Intake During Exercise
Outdoor activities during the summer can take a toll on your body. With as little as 3% fluid loss you can start to notice effects on your performance. The best way to ensure that you’re drinking enough water is to weigh yourself before and after a workout. For every 1 pound that you lose during exercise you should drink 16 oz. of water to replenish what’s been lost. For activities lasting longer than 1 hour special care needs to be taken to fuel during and after your workout. There are many sports drinks on the market that claim to hydrate and provide electrolytes, but what exactly should you be looking for? Look for a drink that contains 600mg of sodium per 16-20oz and also contains key electrolytes such as potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. Your drink should not be a primary source of calories, but rather a method of hydration. To supply your caloric needs take in food with carbohydrates and protein. This will keep your energy levels high and also assist in your hydration. Lastly, try to keep your body cool while exercising by using insulated bottles to keep your liquids cool, and wearing clothing that wicks sweat and helps keep you protected from the sun.
What To Do When Your Body Starts Overheating
Despite your best efforts to hydrate and be prepared for summer time activities, it’s not uncommon to suffer from overheating or heat exhaustion. The symptoms can include dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and even fainting. At the first signs of overheating stop and rest or slow down to allow your body a chance to cool off. Try squirting cool water on your head and forearms. This aids in drawing heat away from your body and lowers your core temperature. It’s important that it’s cool water and not ice cold, as the ice cold water will force heat back into your body. Remember that the early signs of overheating are your body telling you to slow down. If you listen and take the proper steps to cool down, you can enjoy your time outside.
Summer is a time of long days and endless possibilities for outdoor fun. Whether you’re going for a bike ride, run, hike or just spending a day outside with your family, don’t let the heat keep you indoors. Remember the importance of proper hydration on a daily basis and to replenish what’s lost during exercise. Pay attention to your body’s early warning signs and take the necessary steps to cool down if you’re overheating. With a little preparedness you can continue to pursue all of your favorite outdoor activities when the temperature starts to rise.