By: Amy Bohl, LAT, Agnesian HealthCare Sports & Spine Center
Whether you’re a serious athlete or a recreational one, summer’s high temperatures can put you at risk for dehydration. Hydration is necessary for good health, and it’s important to make sure you consume the right amount of fluids before, during and after activity. Because the body cannot store water, we must constantly provide and supply it with water to maintain our body’s many functioning systems.
- Signs of dehydration include dark urine (similar to apple juice), fatigue or loss of energy, dizziness, light-headedness, loss of coordination, muscle cramps or spasms, headache, nausea and confusion.
- It takes seven to 14 days for the body to adapt to exercising in the heat. This is called acclimatization.
- Keep water and sports drinks cold – cold beverages are consumed 50 percent more than warm beverages.
- Drink enough water to prevent thirst. If you’re feeling thirsty, dehydration is already setting in.
- Have sports drinks on hand for workout sessions lasting longer than an hour, or when exercising in high heat and humidity. Sweating helps cool the body, and causes water and sodium loss through the skin. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, sodium and potassium. Water can help with dehydration but does not provide energy (carbohydrates) for muscles or electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to reduce cramps.
- Hydrate before, during and after activity.
- Before exercise: Hydrate with 16 to 20 ounces of water two hours before you start exercising, followed by eight ounces of water or sports drink 10 to 20 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up.
- During exercise: Drink four to eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise (approximately 16 to 32 oounces per hour).
- After exercise: Approximately 16 to 24 ounces of water or sports drink should be consumed for every pound of body weight lost during the activity.
- Clothing worn by athletes should be light colored, lightweight and protect against the sun. Moisture wicking clothes keep you cool by pulling sweat away from your body.
- Exercise in the morning or evening when weather tends to be cooler and sun exposure is less.