Ignoring symptoms can lead to heat stroke, which is much more severe and requires medical treatment. One of the most important things you can do is to stay hydrated. If you’re an evening exerciser, make sure to drink fluid, especially water, throughout the day, not just during your workout. If you’re a morning person, drinking enough the night before is critical. Limit alcoholic beverages, which may contribute to dehydration. Eat colorful and water rich foods to add a boost of hydration.
Here is what I recommend:
- 16 – 20 ounces of water two hours before moderate-intensity summer exercise,
- 8 -12 ounces 10 – 15 minutes before going out in the heat, and
- 3 – 8 ounces every 15 – 20 minutes during activity when active for less than 60 minutes,
- 3 – 8 ounces of a sports beverage every 15 – 20 minutes when exercising greater than 60 minutes
How do you know if you’re getting enough fluid? Urine should be the color of lemonade or lighter. You might also weigh yourself before and after a workout to see how much fluid you lose. For every pound lighter you are after exercise, you’ve lost approximately 20 – 24 ounces of fluid and this is weight that needs to be replaced.
More Summer Hydration Tips
- While hydration is the top concern, there are other steps you can take to prevent heat-related illness.
- Avoid exercising in the heat, or at least avoid being outside during the hottest times of day.
- Start slower, pace yourself, stay hydrated, and be aware of changes in energy.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing in light colors. Sweat-wicking fabrics will be the most comfortable.
- Hats and helmets trap heat, so if you’re wearing one, take it off during rest breaks to allow heat to escape. Choose helmets and hats with vents, or choose a visor vs. a hat to allow heat to escape. During prolonged exercise, think about wearing a wet towel or bandanna on your neck or head.
These are general summer hydration tips to preventing heat-related illness, but remember that each individual is different. Don’t try to keep up with exercise buddies who may be more tolerant to the heat than you are. Use your head and stay cool!
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