Exercising outside during the summer: Staying hydrated

Stay safe and hydrated during the warmer summer months!

With the weather warming up and people planning outdoor activities, it is important to stay hydrated as the temperature rises. Michigan State University Extension advises those engaging in outdoor activities to become in tune with their bodies and their hydration needs.

Sweating occurs when our bodies and muscles become warm from activity. Sweat evaporates from the skin to cool the body down during and after activity. When lots of sweating occurs, such as in hot and humid summer weather, that fluid needs to be replaced to keep the body hydrated.

It is important to listen to what your body needs to stay safe and healthy during outdoor summer activities. According to the Cleveland Clinic, signs of dehydration include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flushed skin
  • Heat intolerance
  • Becoming light-headed
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry cough

There are ways to properly replace fluids lost through sweat. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the easiest way to replace lost fluids after physical activity is to weigh yourself before and after working out, and then replace each pound of weight loss with 2.5 cups of water. If the outdoor activity lasts all day or longer than a single workout and weighing yourself is not an option, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking at least 16-20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. Then, consume six to 12 ounces of fluid every 10-15 minutes that you are outside. Afterwards drink another 16-24 ounces of fluid to replace what was lost.

In severe cases of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur. The American College of Sports Medicine points out the differences between the two. Heat exhaustion is a severe form of dehydration that affects the cardiovascular system. The lack of fluid in body compartments forces the heart to work harder to maintain output. Heat stroke occurs when the body shuts down its mechanisms for heat release, such as sweating. If you think someone is experiencing heat stroke call 911 and try to cool the person down in the shade with ice packs or wet towels.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Skin that feels cool and moist
  • Muscle cramps

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Lack of sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness

Water is always a good choice to help rehydrate, but if you are sweating excessively and working out longer than one hour, a sports drink can help replace electrolytes.

Another way to help your body hydrate and prepare for an outdoor activity is to consume water-rich foods throughout the day. Water-rich foods include lettuce, watermelon, grapefruit, broccoli and yogurt.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you and remember to stay hydrated and take breaks when needed. Stay safe while enjoying the summer weather!

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