It’s all too easy to want to lock ourselves inside with the air conditioner on rather than venturing out on a hot summers day. However, if you take note of these tips you can safely still be active and keep up your exercise routine and outdoor physical activities throughout the hot summer days.
1. Hydrate before, during and after you exercise.
Hydrating before exercise is essential, as you are unlikely to drink enough when you are exercising in the heat. Starting out well-hydrated will help minimise and delay the inevitable fluid deficit. Note:you don’t want to drink at a rate greater than you sweat at and it is quite safe to have some fluid loss, you will replace it quite quickly in the coming hours. It is extreme fluid and electrolyte loss that is dangerous.
Keep up the fluid intake during exercise but remember that small and steady wins the race. One big load of fluid near the end of your exercise session like downing your water bottle once you’ve finished, often results in slower absorption and greater loss of fluid into urine.
Your body continues to sweat for some time after you stop exercising, to bring your temperature back to normal range. You therefore need to continue your fluid uptake to balance for this continuing fluid loss if it has been a big session.
2. Replace weight lost during the session.
Weight loss during exercise is fluid loss, not body fat. You should aim to drink the same amount of fluid (in litres) as you lost in weight (in kgs), and even up to 50% more to allow for continuing fluid loss (sweating) post-exercise if you are going to be backing up with another session within 24 hours. You can weigh yourself after exercise to monitor how you are tracking with this. If you are exercising at a moderate to lower intensity thirst is generally a good indicator of fluid need and also the colour of your urine. If it is very dark then up the fluid intake.
3. Vary how much you drink depending on your individual needs.
Some people have high sweat rates and will need to drink twice as much others. One person may lose 700ml per hour and another person 1.5l itres per hour. You can get an idea from how much weight you lose in a session by weighing yourself. Drinking around 250ml every 20 minutes is a great way to spread the fluid intake out to minimise dehydration and the feeling of heat exhaustion for an intense exercise session in hot conditions.Having fluid during the day and drinking two cups of water a couple of hours beforeyour session is recommended.
4. It doesn’t always have to be H2O
What you drink will also vary. Most of the time water is sufficient, however, when it’s very hot, you may like to drink fluid with electrolytes (salts) in it as well. These are minerals that help maintain fluid balance within the body. They are particularly important if you are a high-volume sweater or a salty sweater (someone who loses a lot of electrolytes through their sweat).
You could eat some food that is high in watercontent and electrolytes such as fruit, vegetables, milk, yoghurt or soupbefore, during or after exercise. You can also drink fluids that containelectrolytes such as oral rehydration fluids if it is an intense session andsports drinks in some cases. Sports drinks also contain 6-7% sugar. This isuseful if the session is long and intense (over 90 minutes generally) and youneed energy source top ups. If you are a big sweater, oral rehydration fluidsmight be useful even at shorter sessions during the heat before, during andafter to provide a fluid containing electorlytes for more rapid absorption.Everyone will be different, depending on their needs. I tend to believe most ofus can obtain our carbohydrate needs from food that also provides othervaluable nutrients and don’t need sugary drinks.
Having electrolytes in the drink helps the body retain the fluid more effectively. It can also stimulate thirst to keep you drinking more to aid with hydration during and rehydration after for extreme heat conditions.
5. Take breaks and listen to your body
You will feel more fatigued in the heat, as your body may not be able to produce enough sweat to keep you cool enough. Don’t push yourself if you feel something is wrong. If you experience dizziness, loss of concentration or confusion, stop and seek assistance if the feeling does not pass.
Exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when it’s cooler. Wear a hat, stay in the shade and swimming may be something your body prefers in the heat.Remember though you do still sweat in the pool, you just don’t notice it!
Drink water, slip, slop, slap and enjoy keeping active over the summer!