The Importance of Summer Hydration
Bliss! The summer has finally arrived. The sun’s out, the guns are out and we finally get to show off the beach body we’ve been working so hard on for the past few months.
But the rising temperature means we are more susceptible to losing water. The heat makes us sweat and even more so if we are training. So, it is important that we keep ourselves adequately hydrated throughout the summer months.
Hydration is essential for keeping a good balance between water and electrolytes in the body. When the balance is good our body systems can function at their optimum levels. The smallest of changes in our hydration can produce visible effects on the way we perform both physically and mentally.
Why Do We Need Water?
Without water, life is unable to be sustained. An adult body consists of around 60% water so it is really important that we drink enough of the stuff to stay hydrated. Water helps to transport essential nutrients as well as oxygen to the cells and tissues. It also helps to keep our joints lubricated.
Without a good intake of water, we can quickly become dehydrated. The lack of water can affect our cells which ultimately impacts on our body systems. Dehydration, for example, can result in tiredness, headaches, low urine output, constipation, dry skin and feeling thirsty.
Without water, humans cannot survive. In fact, dehydration can kill within about a week even though humans have been known to survive without food for months!
Training in the Summer Months
You may have achieved that perfect summer body or maybe it’s still a work in progress. Whichever, the summer months aren’t just an excuse to stop training, but it may mean you have to be more mindful of your environment.
When we exercise, particularly when it is hot, our blood flow across the skin and our sweat rate both increase which allows our body temperature to stay balanced. As a result, this can put extra strain on our body and if we are exercising for a prolonged period, it can cause dehydration.
Sweating is a great way to keep us cool but it’s also perfect for water loss. So, it is important to drink before during and after training, especially in hot temperatures. You will also need to replace electrolytes, too, such as sodium.
We love the hot weather – blue skies, boiling hot sunshine and the coolest shades money can buy, but it does have its health risks. Exposure to the heat and sun can cause heat exhaustion, a condition which is unpleasant but not serious unless it becomes heat stroke, which is classified as a medical emergency. The symptoms of heat exhaustion can include a headache, dizziness, feeling sick, sweating, high temperature and excessive thirst.
Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when the body struggles to produce the correct thermoregulatory responses to keep the body’s temperature in balance. Both conditions can be prevented by drinking plenty of cold water, wearing loose clothing, avoiding the sun between11 amand 3 pm, avoiding too much alcohol and avoiding intense exercise.
Drinking plenty of cold water during high temperatures can help to prevent heat-related illnesses.
During the summer, you may need to drink more water to stay hydrated because your body will need to work harder. Try these simple tips to make sure you’re getting enough water:
- Keep a diary of how much water you drink throughout the day
- Invest in a Big Bottle – save money, time and the environment
- Add ice to keep your drink refreshingly cold
- Add slices of citrus fruit, cucumber, mint or strawberries to give water a more exciting taste
- Eat fruits and vegetables which have a high-water content:
Glazer, J, L. (2005). Management of Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion. American Family Physician: 71(11).
National Health Service. (2018). Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/
Popkin, B, M., D’Anci, K, E and Rosenberg, I, H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev: 68(8), pp 439-458
Racinais, S et al. (2015). Consensus Recommendations on Training and Competing in the Heat. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports: 25(S1).