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Marsh column: Stay hydrated

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
One thing we know for sure is that everyone has stress in their life. And if you are trying to eliminate it, you are for sure going to be stressed to the max!
Of course, most of you have heard that exercise helps you deal with stress. It releases endorphins, it helps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
It can make you feel less anxious. Tests have shown that exercise causes a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People have been less hyper and tense after an exercise session (and I can definitely vouch for that!)
• Exercise can relax you. About an hour of exercise can give you 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. Part of the reason is the endorphins and part, the neurotransmitters. What we know is that they make you feel good after exercise, improving your mood and leaving you feeling relaxed.
• Exercise can also make you feel better about yourself. Even when you don’t want to exercise because you feel tired or had a stressful day at work, if you do exercise, you will feel great afterwards. If you have not tried it, take a chance and see how you feel.
• Exercise can also help you eat better. Many studies have shown that people who exercise make better choices when eating. And, of course, a nutritious diet will help you feel better and help you manage your stress better.
Aerobic activity, yoga-type exercises and recreational sports are things which can get you started to help you feel better.
Personally, I am really good about exercising, eating a balanced high fiber diet and I manage my stress pretty well. Lately, it has been very busy with all kinds of wonderful things such as the Spin-a-thon, preparing for the Buck Hurley Triathlon (which is on May 1), lots of new classes, sports programs, etc.
One thing that I am not good about is drinking water. I get busy and, due to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), my body tells me when to eat, but I don’t have (or can ignore) signs of dehydration.
Last week, I had a night to remember. I thought my insides were ready to explode and was in fear of appendicitis. By 2 a.m., the tremendous pain subsided. This was the third time this happened in six months and I asked my gynecologist and dear friend, Dr. Jesse Blumenthal, for advice. She had me in the next morning and made sure my female reproductive system was not causing this. She knows I can deal with pain very well and was worried that it could be something serious. A CAT scan was ordered. It showed I was full of it (I know, most of you know that already). Severe constipation … what? OK, I didn’t “go” for two days, but constipation? Can it cause that much pain and agony? I was diagnosed with spastic colon a long time ago, but those “flare-ups” were not even close to what I have been experiencing. I didn’t realize that spastic colon and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are the same. IBS sufferers say it can be so severe that it actually lands them in the hospital sometimes. Well, I exercise, eat pretty well and can manage my stress, but I found I miss one very important asset: hydration. I don’t hydrate nearly enough. I can go forever without drinking anything. I try to be decent about it (found out that my “good days” are not even close to being good). But the busier I am, the less I think about it. That’s disaster for an irritable bowel! My goal to deal with stress is to hydrate. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water are recommended. My good day has 20 ounces of water and 20 ounces of coffee … at least. So I need to triple my “good day” water intake and decrease the coffee (boo hoo). I am going to try! Hopefully, it will help me manage my stress better and I can stay away from having my colon cramp so bad I thought I was in labor. So don’t forget to hydrate, and next week I will get more into the importance of hydration.
I want to commend our Rowan Regional Hospital. From Dr. Jesse’s office down to registration, volunteers, CAT scan staff and Dr. Dula, I was very impressed how all of the staff were going out of their way to make everyone feel very welcome and at ease. Thank you for that.
So, to all, cardio, yoga, play basketball and racquetball, eat a balanced healthy diet … and hydrate.
Ester H Marsh, ACSM Cpt

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