For some of you, winter exercise is just another daily adventure, especially if you live in a northern climate. For others, the thought of beginning an exercise routine Continue reading
Equipment in good working order – check.
Food source appropriate for the day’s adventure – check.
Sunscreen – check.
Fluid replenishment – check and double check.
It’s summer time with temperatures and humidity reaching near-record levels. As an outdoor enthusiast or athlete, fluid replenishment should be right at the top of your list.
Sweating is a natural byproduct of exertion and provides a mechanism for dissipating our body heat. Sweat rolls over the skin and provides for cooling of the skin and superficial tissues. The more we sweat, the more fluids we lose and become dehydrated. We also lose valuable electrolytes such as sodium and potassium when we sweat.
Dehydration of a mere 2% of your body weight causes a decrease in performance – for high performance athletes this is can be the difference between a place on the podium and watching from the stands or training room. Dehydration in those of us with average abilities, still decreases our performance and places us at greater risk for heat related problems and conditions.
Engaging in intensive athletic events, practice or training in high heat and humidity is a potential situation for a number of heat related conditions.
Heat exhaustion – is a result of exposure to high temps coupled with a high level of exertion over several hours or days, resulting in a state of dehydration and often accompanied by dark, pungent urine, muscle cramps, headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, profuse sweating and elevated heart rate (see performance decrease with dehydration above). Remove yourself from the environment preferably in air-conditioning, take a cool shower or sponge bath, replenish fluids, rest.
Heat stroke – is a medical emergency! Heat stroke often is a progression from the milder heat related conditions (exhaustion, cramps) that are left untreated or unrecognized. Prolonged, intense exercise in hot environments >>>dehydration>>>the body’s cooling system fails. Throbbing headache, red-hot-dry skin, lack of sweating, core body temperature over 104 degrees, confusion, disorientation, elevated heart rate all or in part may be present.
Call 911 and until the ambulance arrives, get out of the hot environment, rapidly cool the person by applying ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck; immerse in cool water tub or shower.
Hyponatremia – is a condition that can be caused by, among other things, excessive loss of electrolytes over a relatively short time period. A physical examination, blood test and urinalysis will assist a physician in making the clinical diagnosis of hyponatremia.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Sports drinks are beneficial. However, the marketing cog of companies wants you to believe (and purchase) their products are necessary all day, every day. That’s not quite the case – there’s a time and place for everything.
For example, if an apparently healthy adult walks the dog in the evening for 3 miles, in hot, humid weather, then water is probably the drink of choice to consume before, during and after the walk.
For the landscaper performing strenuous physical activity for hours at a time in the hot, humid weather, a sports drink in addition to water is more appropriate.
A triathlete completing a training run during lunchtime and then a bike ride in the evening, should consider water and a sports drink following the run, before, during and possibly after the bike ride. Also a small meal or two to refill the energy stores between training sessions.
Youth athletes should be encouraged to drink plenty of water during their practice session and sports drink following the activity.
Heat illness can be prevented with education, proper planning, having resources on hand and a watchful eye.