Now that the weather is getting warmer, we all need to remember the importance of controlling our fluid intake. In hot climates, a lot of fluid is lost through sweat. Among other things, this can result in a decrease in blood volume that would make it difficult for your body to cool down. High humidity can also play a factor in preventing your body from getting cold by preventing sweat from evaporating. So if you exercise outside, be sure to follow these tips:
- Exercise early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are quite low.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made from a fabric that “breathes.”
- Drink lots of water before and during your workout.
How much water should I consume?
Muscle tissue is made up of more than 70% water and is very important for cellular activity, so you should make sure to consume plenty of water throughout the day. The more protein you eat in your diet, the more water you need to help flush out waste products like ammonia and urea. Sweating from a strenuous workout will also cause you to lose more water. A good rule of thumb to make sure you stay properly hydrated is to multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.55. This will give you a good target for how many ounces of water to drink. For example, a 180-pound person would need to drink about 99 ounces of water a day. That’s roughly five 20-ounce bottles of water.
What about my electrolyte balance?
Electrolyte balance is crucial for many bodily functions. The body’s primary electrolytes are calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium, and they are actually considered macrominerals. Some examples of what can happen from an electrolyte imbalance are:
- Elevated potassium levels that can cause cardiac arrhythmia.
- A decrease in extracellular potassium can cause paralysis.
- Excess extracellular sodium causes fluid retention
- Decreased calcium can cause muscle spasms.
There are several drinks on the market right now that will help keep electrolyte balance in check, Gatorade and Powerade are two popular examples. Drinking one of these after a strenuous workout can go a long way in replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat.
Hydrate before exercise
If you know that you are going to be exercising outside for an extended period of time, or perhaps playing a sport like basketball, soccer, football, etc., then a good tip would be to start hydrating about 4 hours earlier. Drink about 8 ounces of water every 10 to 15 minutes until about an hour before you start. Then drink another 16 ounces at the one hour mark. Make sure you don’t drink anything for the last half hour, giving your body at least 30 minutes to absorb the water. During your exercise / game, be sure to continue to drink 8-10 ounces of water or an electrolyte drink, especially in hot and humid weather.
As long as you make sure you get enough water throughout the day and replenish your electrolytes after vigorous exercise, exercising outside is not a problem for you. Drink and enjoy the sun!