By Hannah Dykstra
After a very wet and cool winter, we are now beginning to welcome the joys of the sun that has been in hiding. If you have spent a summer in Redding, chances are that you’re preparing for it like it’s the zombie apocalypse. Kiddie pools, otter pops and personal spray misters for those scorching days at the “garage gym” should defiantly on the top of the must-have list. There is an inherit risk of danger to combining a grueling workout with high temperatures so here is what you need to know about hydration to stay safe and perform optimally throughout your summer fitness journey:
Dehydration and Performance
Dehydration occurs when more water and fluids are exiting the body than are entering. Think about the last CrossFit workout you did in which you left a “sweat angel” on the floor on just a moderately warm day. Your body has to be excreting a lot of water to be leaving an imprint of your entire body on the floor. If you cannot recall rehydrating your body, odds are you were dehydrated and probably still are. Sweat evaporation during a workout is a key thermoregulatory mechanism, but exercising to exhaustion when you have a fluid deficit can lead to many physical problems including fatigue and headaches. According to an article in the Journal of Sport Nutrition, exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight. An excessive loss of 5% body weight can decrease work capacity by 30%. If you’re competitive in the gym and that doesn’t scare you enough, I don’t know what will.
How to Hydrate
For the average person, about 1/2 your body weight in ounces is an adequate but generalized calculation. For a person participating in physical activity, they need to drink that same amount of water plus an additional 16-20 more ounces per hour of activity. This, however, is a generalized calculation and personal differences and needs aren’t taken into account. For highly active athletes, water alone may not be enough for your body’s replenishment. This is where electrolytes come into account.
Electrolytes are chemical substances that dissolve into ions when diluted with water. These ions are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride and become molecules that aid in the conduction of electrical impulses throughout the body. These impulses are responsible for muscle contraction and brain function. So a lack of electrolytes equals a lack of muscle work capacity! Some examples of electrolyte replenishment options are listed below:
Coconut water is potentially one of the most natural forms of electrolyte rehydration, meaning it doesn’t contain chemical additives, dye or artificial sweeteners. Coconut water is high in electrolytes potassium, sodium and magnesium, but low in carbs unlike most sports drinks.
My go-to favorite electrolyte tablet is from the brand Nuun. It’s possibly one of the more simple ways to manage the water to electrolyte ratio within the body. All you have to do is drop a tablet into the recommended amount of water and wait until it is dissolved.
Salt is composed of 40% sodium and 60% chloride and when combined with water, it becomes an electrolyte.
If you’re the type to dump puddles of sweat during your workout and leave behind full body sweat angels, consider your hydration and electrolyte daily intake. Especially with summer coming, hydration is especially important but often forgotten about. Give water calculations a chance and be conscious of your work capacity during these tough workouts.