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Hydration and fitness

Majority of people are under the impression that dehydration is only something that happens to athletes. The truth is that it happens to everyone, in all lifestyles, and of all ages. Athletes just experience dehydration faster, and with signs that are more visible.

Our bodies heat up when it works hard, whether it is during a long walk to the office or during physical training. To try to cool your body down enough to prevent heat stroke and to reduce our core temperature, our bodies have to perspire. The perspiration evaporates to assist the body to reduce temperature. The drawback is that during warmer and humid days that the perspiration is not efficient, and your body continues to sweat to try to reduce heat. As a result, dehydration accelerates.

There are a few tips that can assist you in avoiding dehydration during your sports training and daily life. The most important tip is to keep hydrated, and not to wait until you are thirsty. Drink water often, and at regular intervals. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already short of close to 1.5 litres of body fluids. It can take over a full day to recover from that type of dehydration! If you continue to work, train or exercise without sufficient hydration, your body can suffer from heat stroke. It happens quickest to unfit, elderly adults and overweight individuals, but everyone who risks dehydration is at danger.

A good indicator of your body’s hydration level is the colour of your urine. The more transparent and clear your urine is, the more hydrated you are. If you find that your urine is yellow or discoloured, then you are at risk of dehydration and need to increase your water and fluid intake immediately.  Take your lifestyle and environment into consideration. If you are planning on walking a long distance to work or to a bus or train station, then plan accordingly and take a bottle of water with you. The same goes for people who are planning on exercising. If you know that it is going to be a hot or humid day, increase your water intake hours before your exercise.

About 0.5L of water 1-2 hours before your exercise should assist you to stay cool, increase your performance and reduce your risk of heat stroke and dehydration dramatically.  Avoid coffee, teas and any drink with alcohol in it, as these will cause you to urinate more often, and increase your fluid loss. Remember that after your exercise, long walk or strenuous activity to drink lots of water. Do this as quickly as possible to give your body the help that it needs to recover.