Beat the Heat – Hydration Tips

21 06 2010

Tips in this post taken from an article on RunnersWorld.com which you can view here: Sipping Points.  Although these tips are tailored for runners, I will break them down into applicable tips for all outdoor occasions this summer.

Happy First Day of Summer!  Summer has finally arrived!  Of course, if you live in Oklahoma or Texas or anywhere else in this part of the country it’s been summer for awhile now with temperatures in the 90s since May.  Now that summer is officially here, what big plans does everyone have?  I plan on spending a few extra days at the lake over the July 4th weekend.  And although it’s blistering hot on most days I still plan to get plenty of training in.  For instance, just this last weekend I went out with some Team In Training folks and did a 56 mile bike ride for a children’s home here in OKC, then on Sunday I went out for a short run.  What do these two things have in common?  Sweat, lots and lots of sweat.

If you look at the 7-day forecast for Oklahoma City you will see temperatures in the 95-100 degree range all week long.  Athlete’s all know that hydration is a very important part of athletic performance (although we don’t always hydrate like we should!), but when the temperatures get this hot I think everyone can use a few tips on hydration for the summer months.  Whether you are training for a triathlon, enjoying a weekend at the lake, playing some golf, or mowing the lawn, it is extremely important that you stay on top of your hydration needs.  Take these tips and implement them into your schedule so you can have a safe and hydrated summer!

First, we need to remember how just a small amount of dehydration can impact your performance, athletic or otherwise.  “Being more than two percent dehydrated in warm environments causes a decline in performance,” says Robert W. Kenefick, Ph.D., a physiologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.  Because of this, it is important to think about hydration before, during and after activities in the heat.

PRE-HYDRATE TO START STRONG AND STAY STRONG
In a study in the April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training, runners who started a 12-K race dehydrated on an 80 degree day finished about two and a half minutes slower compared to when they ran it hydrated. Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body’s ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands.

Tip: Drink 8-16 ounces of hydrating fluid one to two hours prior to being out in the heat.  Water and sports drinks are good choices here, but you can even get by with iced coffee or tea.  Just make sure you don’t overdo the caffeinated beverages.  Studies have shown that caffeine has no dehydrating effects up to around 500mg, the equivalent of about 4-5 cups of coffee.

STAY COOL BY DRINKING COLD
In a study published in 2008 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, cyclists who drank cold beverages before and during their workout exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages.  The drink that was colder lowered body temperature and perceived effort, allowing participants to exercise longer.

Tip: Before going out in the heat, have a slushy made with crushed ice and your favorite sports drink.  Keep in ice chest full of ice cold drinks on hand when you are out in the heat.  Cold drinks keep your core temperature lower making you feel more energetic and not so hot.

STAY ON SCHEDULE
According to a study in the July 2009 Journal of Sports Sciences, when cyclists recorded their plan for hydrating during workouts—including exact times and amounts—they drank more frequently and consumed more fluid mid-workout than their non-planning peers.

Tip: Keep an eye on the clock when you are out in the heat this summer.  For instance, every 15 minutes you may want to consume a couple ounces of cold water or sports drink.  “Drinking smaller amounts at regular intervals can help you absorb fluid more effectively,” says Cassie Dimmick, R.D, “and avoid stomach sloshing.”

BEER DOESN’T HYDRATE
This is more common sense than anything, and I just threw this one in on my own, but remember to mix in some water and sports drink when out at the lake this summer.  Everybody knows that alcohol dehydrates you, so be sure to get a variety of fluids when out in the heat.

SO WHAT SHOULD I DRINK?!
If you are out for under an hour, water should do the trick.  You should probably have 2-6 ounces every 15-20 minutes.

Out in the heat for more than an hour?  You definitely want to mix in some sports drink on long outings in the heat.  Physical activity and sweating removes important electrolytes from your body that water won’t replace.  Have some sports drink such as Gatorade or Powerade to make sure you are maintaining adequate electrolyte levels to avoid hyponatremia.

Finally, once you get out of the heat make sure you replace fluids you lost.  Come inside, get a tall glass of ice water or cold sports drink and rehydrate for your next outdoor occasion.   Thanks for reading, I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and hydrated summer.

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