Friday, July 27, 2012

Hydrating in the Heat

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty
School of Health Sciences

In keeping with the theme of the Olympics, I thought I would write about hydrating for exercise in this summer heat. It is important if you are working out outdoors that you make sure you are properly hydrating. Physiologically speaking exercising in the heat puts the most stress on your body. You are dealing with the heat gained from physical exertion as well as the hot environment. Dehydration results if you don’t take in enough fluids to keep up with your sweat losses. An average person that weighs 110 to 165 pounds can lose 2 to 4% of his/her body weight per hour and losses of just 2% result in decreased performance. Exercising in the heat decreases your efficiency and as you become more dehydrated you rely more heavily on your stored fuel aka stored glycogen. This means you will tire faster due to the buildup of lactic acid (that nasty burning sensation you feel in your muscles).

Make sure you are drinking enough fluids and if your workout is longer than 60 minutes then you will want something that includes electrolytes like a sports drink. Check the label as you want to have at least 100 mg of sodium, 30 mg of potassium, and 14 g of carbohydrate per 8 ounce serving. If you prefer electrolyte chews, they generally have more carbohydrates and less sodium but are still a good choice. Wash them down with at least 8-12 ounces of water. Plain water is not sufficient in the extreme heat so make sure you have a plan and hydrate early and often. In my next post I will talk about dietary sources of electrolytes so until then, don't let the heat derail your exercise routine, just make sure you properly hydrate.


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