Ever spend an entire day outside on a mid summer scorcher only to come home with an insane headache, extreme thirst, lack of concentration and extreme irritability? These are just some of the effects that the sun and hot weather has on the human body when we neglect to protect ourselves from the heat, sun exposure and fail to properly hydrate throughout the day.
Prolonged sun and heat exposure with minimal preventative measures (e.g. hydration, sunscreen, proper hats, sunglasses & clothing) could have serious detrimental affects to the body at rest and especially during exercise. Heat and or sunstroke are not a joke and could lead to hospitalization and even death if unnoticed or taken lightly and not treated promptly.
Here is a great read on heat stroke signs, symptoms and preventative measures: http://www.medicinenet.com/heat_stroke/article.htm
Among some of the preventative measures, proper hydration is at the top of the list as a primary preventative action. In addition, it’s mentioned right off the bat that vigorous exercise in extreme heat should be avoided if possible. If you need to be exercising in the extreme heat it is essential that you hydrate very well, not too much, protect yourself from the sun and have a solid treatment plan in place.
Seems strange, but I still get this question all the time: “How much water should I be drinking every day?” For organisms that are approximately 70% water, it seems like we should have a good idea of how much to drink and when. Unfortunately, a large majority of the population is dehydrated on a daily basis and this can significantly increase the stress on our cardiovascular as well as respiratory systems at rest and significantly more during exercise… Important note: If you’re thirsty at all, you’re already dehydrated!
So if we want to ensure to function optimally we need to hydrate well on a daily basis. A great publication produced by CSEP and the Dairy Farmers of Canada outlines the importance of hydration and provides guidelines for active Canadian’s. The publication is called Fluid for Active Canadians: Are you Getting Enough?, and I encourage you to go through this with your friends and family.
Another great resource on hydration & exercise in the heat can be found on Healthy Families BC blog roll: I hope my mom brings oranges.
If you have any other questions relating to hydration and or exercise please don’t hesitate to contact the Physical Activity Line (toll free: 1-877-725-1149) and or Dietitian Services at Health Link BC (dial 811)
References & Resources: