With signs of Spring and warmer weather, the need to consider factors such as water intake and dehydration become more important. Here in the good old Midwest, temperatures and humidity levels will continue to rise making it more and more difficult for the body to cool itself. The body cools itself by sweating and during this process water is lost from the body. Surprising amounts of water can be lost and it has been reported that the average person will lose around 1.5 to 1.7 liters of fluid every hour during exercise (REF). When water loss reaches 1% of the person’s body mass (approximately one 20 ounce bottle of water for a 170 pound athlete) many aspects of performance begin to deteriorate and this downwards spiral increases as the amount of dehydration increases (REF). The more dehydrated you become, the more your performance and health is impacted.
The best way to counteract the loss of body fluid is to regularly consume fluid before, during and after the exercise bout. A key factor that many athletes do not fully appreciate is the fact that it is nearly impossible for you to drink enough during exercise to adequately hydrate yourself while you continue to exercise in the heat. The problem here is simply that the stomach has a difficult time absorbing and releasing enough fluid from it at a rate that will allow for rehydration to occur (REF). In other words, once you develop dehydration to any amount it is next to impossible to reverse its negative effects without stopping altogether. If you are out playing a friendly game of soccer or shooting hoops this is no big deal, but if you are competing in a tournament or running a race or triathlon, this fact can have a big-time negative impact on how you will end up performing.
A negative impact on your performance is one problem, but very serious problems can also occur to your overall health. Make no mistake about it, exercising in extreme heat and humidity can have life-altering outcomes as each summer you read media reports of high school or college aged athletes succumbing and sometimes tragically losing their lives to heat injuries caused by extreme summer temperatures. Below is a quick summary of the things you need to consider to make sure you can enjoy outdoor exercise:
Summertime is a great time of the year. While higher temperatures and humidity levels can challenging the body’s ability to cool itself, taking a few extra precautions and paying attention to how you are feeling in combination with some common sense can help to prevent significant problems related to the heat.
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