With summer officially in full swing, and as training starts to ramp up, it’s important to keep proper hydration strategies top of mind. Staying hydrated throughout the day cannot only help you increase your sport performance, but it can also help you stay safe.
One of the most important steps to take before exercising in the summer is to let your body get use to the heat and humidity. Heat acclimation is crucial to help your body adapt to the different environmental conditions that may be present. It can help prevent many heat related illness that have detrimental effects on the body. Start by taking walks or spending more time outdoors just to let your body begins the initial stages of adjusting to higher humidity and temperatures. When moving on to exercising in warmer conditions remember to take it easy the first few sessions.
Slow Down & Monitor Heart Rate
If your normal easy run pace is 7:30 per mile, ease up to 8:30-9:00 per mile for the first few runs. You’ll notice that you may feel the effects of the heat even at a much slower pace, perhaps an increased heart rate or perspiration. Do at least 3-4 of these easy runs before resuming normal training paces and efforts.
Plan Your Route
Be sure to carry fluids with you, or run a loop where a water fountain is accessible. Staying properly hydration throughout the day is the easiest way to help prevent dehydration and other illness that may occur when exercising in warmer conditions. Note: IOM recommendation for daily fluid intake; Men: 3.1 liters, Women: 2.7 liter, and a mere 2-3% in total body water loss can lead to a decrease in exercise performance.
In the warmer conditions it’s important to replenish electrolytes as your sweat rate will increase dramatically, and your need for these nutrients will also increase. Drinking plain water over and over again can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium), which is a very serious condition that has severe impacts on the normal body functions. Hyponatremia occurs during longer sessions where the athletes drink nothing but plain water, and end up flushing out critical electrolytes that are needed to maintain many internal functions (For example; Sodium/Potassium pump). During hyponatremia the body starts searching internally for sodium, when your stores are depleted the body will then turn to your kidneys for sodium in order to maintain vital functions. Taking sodium away from key organs can lead to kidney failure, which can lead to cardiac arrest. So for those longer runs, or sessions where it’s a bit warmer carry a bottle with you, and make you throw in a tablet or two of Nuun.
Be aware of these signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat related illness:
- Muscle cramping
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive sweating (post workout)
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
1. Brochure on proper fluid intake by ACSM: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf
2. Noakes, T. (2012). Waterlogged. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
3. Institute of Medicine: DRI’s for Electrolytes and Water
Photo credit: Nuunbassador Jessica