Heat Wave Watch: How To Keep Hydrated When Exercising In Hot Weather
We salute the commitment of everyone who has continued running, cycling, training and exercising during our glorious heatwave. The world doesn’t stop when the sun is shining, and in many ways the summer is the best time to exercise – certainly outdoors.
It is always important to keep hydrated when exercising, but especially so when the thermometer creeps up. Is very easy to get dehydrated, and the symptoms are not always apparent until the damage is done.
Worse still is the risk of heat exhaustion and – if left unaddressed – heatstroke/sunstroke, which is a life-threatening condition causing organ failure and coma in extreme cases.
So please please please keep hydrated during hot weather. Here are some tips to keeping your water levels topped up while still pushing yourself hard this summer.
Know How Much Water You Need
Water accounts for around 50% to 60% of our total body weight at any given time. We use water naturally throughout the day and at a greater rate while exercising, but this differs from person to person. The outside temperature, humidity, intensity of activity, your diet and body mass all affect the rate at which you use water. Accepted wisdom says you should drink around 2 L of fluids a day, but this is a general estimate and doesn’t take strenuous exercise into account. Some people need more, so listen to your body.
Keeping hydrated during exercise means maintaining equilibrium – replacing all the fluids consumed during exercise and/or lost to sweat. This is important from a performance as well as a health angle, as even a small fluid loss can reduce performance outputs by 10% or more.
Be mindful while exercising and look out for signs of thirst:
- Monitor the colour of your urine. Dark and strongly scented urine is a sign of dehydration, as is not needing to wee regularly.
- Monitor sweat loss. When exercising your muscles produce up to 20 times as much heat than when resting. Perspiration is produced to cool your body down, and this fluid must be replaced. When sweating hard, drink more.
- When you start to feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Follow a hydration plan before, during and after exercise, whether or not you feel physical thirst. Be aware that during exercise your body may temporarily suppress the thirst response, or you may be too busy to notice.
Hydration Means More Than Water
Keeping hydrated is not simply a matter of replacing water. While exercising your body uses important electrolytes and carbohydrates – especially glucose. These play an essential role in keeping your muscles working. As your mineral stock depletes, your body becomes stressed and tired, losing performance and even eating into your muscles for emergency protein. Obviously no athlete wants this! Consider using sports nutrition drinks alongside water, as these contain glucose, sodium, electrolytes and protein.
Follow A Sports Hydration Routine
Drink fluids before, during and after exercise:
- Two hours before exercise: Drink 450 mL water
- 15 minutes before exercise: Drink 250 to 500 mL water
- During exercise: Drink 0.5 to 2 L of water per hour depending on the intensity of your exercise. Break this down into 100 mL to 500 mL drinks every 15 to 20 minutes.
- During exercise: Supplement your fluids with 500 mg of sodium per litre to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.
- After exercise: For every 500 g bodyweight lost through exercise (much of this will be water retention), drink 450 mL to 680 mL water
- After exercise: Use a good quality recovery drink containing carbohydrates, salt and protein.Hydration Products From Hellenia
At Hellenia we offer several products to help keep you hydrated. These include our exclusive range of sports hydration drinks, available in delicious melon or coconut flavour. The Hydro series is specially formulated from beetroot juice, watermelon juice, Maca root, lucuma fruit and all natural flavourings.