Hydration in the Heat

Here is a Guide to Hydration during the Summer!

It’s been getting warmer as spring moves into summer across the US.  That means if you are working or playing outside, you need to take care of yourself to stay hydrated and healthy while enjoying the weather.  Follow the below tips to beat the heat while staying active.

Why stay hydrated? Because dehydration:
·         Decreases the time until exhaustion. Work longer with water!
·         Decreases athletic performance. Work better with water!
·         Decreases your ability to keep cool. Keep cooler with water!
·         Causes cramping. Keep loose with water!
·         Leads to heat illness. Keep healthy with water!

How should I hydrate?
·         Know how much water to drink: Too much and too little water are problems. 
o   How much should I drink?
§  Consider that a gulp has 1-2 ounces in it.
·         16-20 ounces of fluid approximately 4 hours before exercise.
·         8-12 ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.
·         3-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of activity.
o   How will I know I have the right amount of fluids?
§  Check this link.  (link) http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf You can weigh yourself pre and post exercise and monitor the color and volume of urine.
·         Watch calories! Consider if you really need all the sugar and calories of a sports drink. Most of us are usually better sticking with water!  Sports drinks are usually only needed after greater than 60 minutes of exercise or strenuous work in heat.  Drink the same as water, 3-8 ounces every 15 minutes.

You can reduce your risk of heat illnesses by:
·         Taking advantage of the farmers markets and eat adequate amounts of healthy foods.
·         Getting plenty of sleep and rest.
·         Avoiding work and exercise in hottest parts of day, when temp is greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
·         Wearing wicking clothing, avoiding clothing that creates barrier to evaporation.
·         Keeping a steady level of activity in the heat, pick cooler days to increase physical workload.
·         Reducing your body weight. It makes it easier to dissipate heat.
·         Avoiding exertion when you are sick, with symptoms such as a fever or vomiting.

What does exertional  heat illness look like?
It varies from person to person! In some people it has been mistaken for concussion or psychiatric problems.  If it’s hot and humid and someone “just seems different” it is time to get out of the heat, hydrate, get out of clothes, get the legs elevated, and get medical help if it doesn’t improve quickly! Typically heat illness may present with any of the following signs and symptoms:
·         Disorientation
·         Confusion
·         Dizziness
·         Irrational or unusual behavior
·         Inappropriate comments
·         Irritability
·         Headache
·         Inability to walk
·         Red or pale skin
·         Loss of balance and muscle function
·         Collapse
·         Profound fatigue
·         Hyperventilation
·         Vomiting
·         Diarrhea
·         Delirium
·         Seizures
·         Coma

If you have had heat illness, you normally need about a week of rest.  A physical therapist can help you determine how to return to activity if you have had heat sensitivity or heat illness.  You will need to have a slow return to activity and exposure to warmer environments. You may need to have your vital signs monitored, such as your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature to safely return to activity.

Have fun in the sun, but don’t forget the water and sunscreen to stay healthy!

Contributed by Jennifer Miller

Sawka MN, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:377-390.


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