Temperatures and humidity have been very high this summer, which makes exercising or doing any physical activity outside more difficult. It is important to pay close attention to hydration when being active outdoors in the summer. Without proper hydration, the body can lose water and electrolytes that can lead to muscle cramping, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, and in worse cases can lead to kidney problems or become fatal.
It is easier to become dehydrated in the summer months due to the higher temperatures and humidity, but there are ways to prevent dehydration. Drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity helps to maintain hydration status. Hydration is important for health because it plays many roles in the body – it helps regulates body temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects body’s tissues, rids waste from the body, and impacts physical activity.
The recommendation is to drink a minimum of 8 cups (80 oz) of water a day, but any physical activity or heat exposure will increase needs due to sweat loss. Drinking the enough fluids before, during and after physical activity is vital for your body to performance properly. Do not wait for thirst to drink, which is a sign of dehydration.
Fluid needs vary by individual, but these general guidelines can help to prevent dehydration:
-Aim to drink 16oz of fluids 1-2 hours prior
-During workout you should try to consume 4oz of fluids every 15-20 minutes
-After a workout aim to consume 16-20oz of fluid for every pound lost during your workout
If exercise or activity outdoors (mowing/gardening) is >60 minutes replacing electrolytes is important during and after activity. Electrolytes help your body hold on to fluids to prevent dehydration, regulate nerve and muscle function, and regulate blood pressure.
Sports drinks – Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water – are an easy way to replace electrolytes and hydrate at the same time. Sports drinks are specifically designed to help rehydrate, provide energy and replenish the body’s electrolytes. They typically contain higher amounts of sugar and calories to provide enough energy (carbohydrates) used during exercise. Nuun Tablets are a great alternative to conventional sports drinks. They are convenient, little tablets that dissolve in water as an electrolyte drink. They are lighter in flavor, contain less sugar, and contain more electrolytes than leading sports drinks. Since Nuun tabs contain lower sugar/carbohydrates, including another source of carbohydrates for energy replacement for exercise would be necessary. This can be achieved with something as simple as a piece of fruit.
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