STAYING HYDRATED IN THE SUMMER HEAT
Dehydration and heat stroke are dangerous conditions that can be life threatening if left untreated. These conditions are more common over the summer months, but can be easily prevented by proper planning and monitoring.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluid that is not being adequately replaced. We lose fluid by sweating, excreting body waste and breathing. Sweat loss is more common during the summer as the body works hard to keep itself cool. If you are outside for long periods of time this increases you risk of dehydration.
Sweating does not only effect the amount of fluid in your body. As you sweat you also excrete minerals like sodium and potassium. These minerals are vital for proper neurological functions like heart rate and mental status. Replacing these minerals as they are lost is critical for a safe recovery. Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and Vitaminwater are designed to replace these vital minerals lost through sweat.
It is important to make sure that you are already hydrated prior to doing an activity where you will be sweating. One simple way to monitor your hydration status is to drink water every 15 minutes leading up to your activity. Fifteen minutes before your activity you can use the restroom to monitor your urine color. Clear urine is an indicator of good hydration. If it is dark then you should continue to drink water and postpone doing your activity.
Proper re-hydration is vital for a recovery. If you plan on sweating during your activity, one way that you can estimate the amount of fluid you need is to weigh yourself before and after. Most weight loss that occurs during activity is from sweat loss. For every pound lost you should try to drink 20-24 ounces of water and/or sports drink. This will help you recover quickly and reduce your risk for dehydration.
For more information visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthlibrary, where you can search for information on dehydration and other health topics.
healthcare.utah.edu/healthlibrary – “Dehydration and Heat Stroke”
ACSM.org – “Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness”
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