Drink lots of water and stay hydrated

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 6, 2014

One of my main challenges is to hydrate. If I could do it with coffee I would be in great shape; however, coffee is a diuretic so I can’t really count it as my proper fluid intake (darn!). During the summer months it seems to be easier to hydrate since it is so hot and your body is absolutely craving fluids. But even now, especially with this cold snap, your body needs appropriate hydration, and this is why:
Lean tissue, muscles and organs consist of more than 70 percenet water. It helps to carry important nutrients to our cells and carries the waste products out of our cells. It helps regulate our body temperature, even lubricating the joints. In other words, you body has to have fluids to function well and stay alive. An easy way to look at it is to take half of your body weight, and those are the ounces of fluid (preferably water) you consume. For example, I weight 140 pounds, so I should drink 70 ounces of fluids a day.
You can also Google “Hydration Calculator.” It asks you all kinds of questions like gender and age and your height, how long you exercise, if you drink alcoholic beverages, etc., and it gives you the recommended ounces.
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount taken in. You lose water by sweating (to cool the body) and simply by breathing (you can really see it during cold weather).

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends to meet your fluid needs while exercising:
• Drink as much as needed to match sweat loss. Approximately 20 ounces of fluids should be consumed for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
• Do not rely on your thirst as a reason to drink. The thirst sensation will only occur after 1 to 2 liters already are lost.
• Sweat rates are often 1-2 liters per hour , making it difficult to consume enough fluids to match the losses. You should learn to drink water on a fixed time interval.
• Fluids should be cool and readily available.

Most people are all about weight loss. “I lost 2 pounds during my workout!” That means you need to consume 40 ounches of fluids. Water weight loss is not true weight loss. By exercising, eating correctly, hydrating as needed, the true (fat) weight loss will come (just not in that hour of exercise).
Signs of dehydration and what to do:
• Of course being thirsty, you are already 40 ounces behind. Drink cool, non-carbonated, non-caffeinated fluids in intervals. Gulping it down at once will increase gastrointestinal distress.
• Dehydration with loss of energy and performance: drink carbohydrate- and electrolyte- containing sports drinks.
• Dehydration with muscle cramps: Immediately stop exercising and massage the cramping muscle while consuming a sports drink that contains sodium, which may relieve the cramp.

The majority of fluids to keep your body hydrated should come from plain water. Unless you exercise excessively for over an hour and sweat heavily, you do not need many (or any at all) sports drinks.
Staying hydrated during exercise has multiple benefits:
• Less pronounced increase in heart rate
• Less pronounced increase in core body temperature.
• Improved cardiac stroke volume and cardiac output (heart is pumping stronger and in greater volumes with one beat)
• Improved skin blood flow, enabling better sweat rates and improved cooling.
• Maintenance of better blood volume
• A reduction of net muscle glycogen usage which improves endurance.
I know its hard to properly hydrate but at least give it a try, knowing how important it is. I am trying!

Ester H Marsh is health and fitness director at the J.F. Hurley YMCA.

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