By Doug Halberstadt
We are in the middle of a heat wave. It’s not often that we experience this many days of temperatures consistently 90 or above. For the casual athlete, that can make things really tough.
Whether you like to spend the warm summer days playing tennis, golf, softball, running the bike path or something less physically demanding, like boating or fishing, it’s extremely important to stay hydrated. The body demands you replace the fluids lost as a result of perspiration and evaporation, or risk becoming dehydrated.
The symptoms of dehydration range from moderate to severe. Increased thirst, dry mouth, swollen tongue, headache and dizziness are the most common symptoms. More severe symptoms include heart palpitations, sluggishness and fainting. Medical treatment should be sought if the person is experiencing any of the severe symptoms. Severe dehydration can lead to death.
The easiest way to prevent this from occurring is to drink sufficient water. Relying on thirst alone rarely is enough to prevent dehydration. This is especially true when temperatures are extremely high. It’s a wise idea to continually drink water while engaging in exercise or strenuous physical activity during hot weather.
There is another way to avoid dehydration. That remedy involves decreasing the amount of perspiration produced. Experts suggest moving your exercise routine to a cooler, shaded area, if possible, or switching your activity to an earlier or later starting time when the temperatures are less extreme.
Another piece of advice is to avoid alcoholic beverages while out in the heat. As refreshing as they may seem at the moment, they actually serve as a diuretic and cause the body to lose fluids. It is best to drink water while out in the heat and save the adult beverages for the air-conditioned comfort of an indoor establishment.
Over this prolonged heat wave, I’ve taken to walking after dark. It is still warm out, but not nearly as bad as it would be during day. I am now also carrying a bottle of ice water with me and drinking from it regularly. It really does help.
It’s been said that we should drink at least eight glasses of water each day. During exercise or excessive heat, it’s recommended to at least double that. Excessive water intake in moderation will not harm the body, provided your kidneys are functioning properly.
Following these simple, yet effective, tips could prevent a trip to the doctor, or even the hospital. So, drink up … water, that is!
From the July 4-10, 2012, issue