Summer is in full swing and hopefully everyone is enjoying more outdoor activity and exercise. With more hours each day being spent in the sun exposed to the heat, it’s time to take a serious look at how well we’re hydrating ourselves. West Michigan’s sandy beaches are quite the seasonal blessing. Most likely, spending time in and on the water is in your summer agenda somewhere.
Typically we spend a day at the beach sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. We place particular attention to sunburn but generally don’t place as much importance on how the increase in temperature affects us internally. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are common this time of year, yet both are preventable conditions. We can protect ourselves from heat-related illnesses by taking the simple steps to appropriately hydrate.
Hydration is also the key to having a successful summer exercise regimen. Well balanced hydration begins with preparing our bodies for exercising in the heat. Experts say it takes about two weeks to get used to warmer weather, and suggest building exercise intensity and duration gradually over that period of time. I personally tend to shift my intense workouts toward the cooler morning hours and keep mellow training sessions for the warmer mid-day. This helps me control my body temperature during workouts.
Truth be told, there isn’t really any science behind the eight glasses of water per day recommendation most of us are familiar with. But at the same time, eight glasses per day isn’t that hard to accomplish as a hydration goal. If you’re one of those people that really enjoys the heat and feel your body acclimates easily to the temperature change, hydrate well anyway. Dehydration can happen on short notice to anyone and is sometimes hard to detect symptoms.
- Dry Mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Decreased urination
The best time to hydrate is before your body starts screaming “hydrate me!” Don’t wait until you’re dehydrated. Instead, set a hydration goal and plan your drinking like you plan meals, but more often. Set up a few simple guidelines to insure you’re getting an adequate amount of fluids throughout the day.
- Start your day with glass of water
- Carry a refillable water bottle
- Order/drink water with meals
- Eat more fruit and veggies
- Drink on a schedule
- Drink cool water rather than ice cold, for better absorption
- Avoid beverages with added sugar, alcohol and/or caffeine
Choosing how to hydrate can be just as difficult as to remembering when. Water is your best option for summer hydration, fluids containing alcohol and/or caffeine are the worst. Sports drinks are solid choices for outdoor exercisers losing excessive amounts of water, but consider staying away from sports drinks while sunbathing and relaxing. Without activity, drinkable calories are often poor additions to our diet.
Enjoy the new freedoms of summer and indulge in them while you can. Heat things up this month with some extra beach time, rack up few more miles out there and sweat a little more. Just remember to protect yourself and drink better. Drink more because it’s warmer, drink consistent because you’re constantly losing water and drink before you’re thirsty.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dakota Shayne is a professional fitness and lifestyle coach based in Grand Rapids. He is often called upon by active business professionals and fitness enthusiasts for his expertise in functional strength training and healthy living.