Adios, mittens and warm hats. See ya next year, heavy fleece. Ta-ta for now, running tights. With the weather warming up, chances are you can’t wait to get out there and start soaking up some heat while you exercise. Feeling the warm sun on your skin while you bust out a long run or hike is indeed glorious, not to mention it can boost your mood, improve your sleep, and supplement your vitamin D levels.
However, as the temperatures creep upward, we’d like to take this opportunity to play conscience/concerned auntie/health monitor and talk about water. Specifically: a few things you don’t know about hydration, how to tell if you’re veering towards dehydration, why you need to pay more attention to how much water you’re getting.
First, a few “didja know?” tidbits:
- Fat contains around 10% - 40% water. Lean muscle mass, on the other hand, contains around 70% - 75% water. This means that ripped beasts like you need to work a little harder to maintain a proper hydration balance.
- Water transports heat away from internal organs and toward your skin. Without enough water in your body you’re at risk for dizziness, cramps, fatigue, or even heatstroke which can be life-threatening
- Without enough water, you are at risk for stomach ulcers thanks to your body not being able to produce the protective lining around your stomach.
- The cartilage in your joints is about 80% water, which means a water shortage compromises its performance.
- Your muscles are water-hogs, and not having enough can actually lower your muscle mass.
So, are you getting enough?
A good rule of thumb is to drink about 6 to 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during intense exercise in the sun. Obviously, the hulky and bulky will require a little more than the petite and trim. Be careful to not overdo it, however. Flushing your body with too much water while exercising can lead to a scary condition called hyponatremia – when your sodium levels drop too low. More information on hyponatremia here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/basics/definition/con-20031445
Hittin’ it hard in the heat for over an hour? Throw a sports drink that contains electrolytes in the mix. This can help prevent your sodium levels from tanking.
You might be familiar with the usual signs of dehydration: dark urine, feeling thirsty, and chapped lips. However, did you know that signs of dehydration also include dry skin, headaches, stinky breath, and muscle cramps? In addition, not having enough water can lead to feeling chilled or feverish. Also, the next time you feel a little sluggish or have a headache, try drinking a big glass of water before turning to caffeine or over-the-counter medication.
Not feeling the water love? We get it – sometimes you need a little more oomph from your beverage. Experiment with infusing water with flavorful tea bags and stevia or cut fruit for a little flavor. Or, we enjoy dropping cubes of frozen fruit juice or lemonade into our water bottle for a refreshing splash of flavor (bonus points if you add chopped mint or basil to the cubes. Move on over, Martha).
The temps aren’t quite soaring yet, but get in the habit now of making sure your water intake is up to par. Then, come your first long run in the heat of summer, dehydration won’t slow you down.