Athletic Trainer Says Drinking Water is Best Choice for Your Body
As the temperature goes up, exercising outside becomes more challenging. Hot and humid weather already has your body working hard to keep the core temperature normal and once you start exercising, keeping your temperature in check becomes even more difficult. But warm temperatures don’t mean you need to skip your exercise: you just need to prepare and stay well hydrated.
When exercising on a hot day, some people can easily lose a few pounds of water weight through sweating. That loss of fluid can contribute to dehydration, which means more water is moving out of our cells and body than is going in. That can lead to problems with different body systems and cause a host of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle aches and confusion.
To avoid dehydration, make sure to drink enough fluids in the hours before you exercise. Water is the best choice since it moves quickly through the body’s digestion track and into your body’s tissues that need hydration the most. In addition to drinking water, eat water-rich foods such as watermelon, grapefruit and crisp lettuce to help your body stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol since both are diuretics and can increase your chances of becoming dehydrated.
For those planning long runs or bike rides during hot and humid weather, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests athletes drink about a pint of water about two hours before going out. That extra liquid before exercising helps ensure adequate hydration during your workout and allows you time to excrete excess water. Either during the run or ride or immediately afterwards, you can also grab a sports drink to refuel and rehydrate your body. If you can, plan your heavy exercise either first thing in the morning or in the evening to avoid the heat from direct sunlight.
When you stay well hydrated, you lower the chances of developing heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion has many of the same symptoms of dehydration – such as dizziness, headaches and nausea – but also has the added symptom of being unable to sweat. If you experience any of these symptoms while exercising, stop and seek shade. Begin drinking water and get to an air-conditioned area. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can evolve into heat stroke, which can be deadly.
During the summer, drinking plenty of fluids – especially water – is necessary to stay healthy. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty before grabbing a drink of water since that’s often a first sign of dehydration. Drinking water throughout the day will help you avoid dehydration. When your body has enough liquids, you’ll feel and perform your best.
Kayla Pfeiffer is a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.