Health News sponsored by VCU Health
By: J. Chevonte’ Alexander
Summertime is always the best time of the year to enjoy being outdoors; whether it is going to the beach, sitting poolside, exercising, ball games and parks, cookouts or just being outdoors. However, before we start enjoying summer, keep in mind the importance of staying properly hydrated, especially during physical activity.
Hydration is always important, but especially in hot and humid weather, as we tend to lose a lot of our body fluids through sweat. The reason dehydration becomes a threat to our bodies is due to the fact that the body is made up of more than 60 percent water. When the levels of body fluids decrease, our body is in great harm. It is best to maintain your hydration level throughout the day. Drink enough water so your urine is consistently pale. When there is an increase in color, make a corresponding increase in drinking water. Also, drink when you are thirsty. Continue to drink a cup or so before and after.
The following tips can help you avoid serious problems while running or doing any physical activity in hot weather.
- Run before the sun gets above the horizon. Get up early during the warm months to avoid most of the dramatic stress from the sun and to enjoy the coolest time of day.
- If you must run when the sun is up, pick a shady course. Shade provides a significant relief in areas of low humidity and some relief in humid environments.
- Run during the evening and night. In areas of low humidity, it’s usually cool later in the day. When it’s humid, the coolest time of the day is just before dawn.
- Have an indoor facility available. With treadmills, you can exercise in air conditioning. If a treadmill bores you, alternate segments of five to 10 minutes – one segment outdoors, and the next indoors.
- Wear a breathable hat! You lose most of your body heat through the top of your head.
- Wear light clothing, but not cotton. Many of the new, technical fibers will move moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Cotton soaks up the sweat, making the garment heavier as it sticks to your skin. This means that you won’t receive as much of a cooling effect as that provided by the tech fibers.
- Pour water over your head. Evaporation not only helps the cooling process, it makes you feel cooler. Bring along some ice water and squirt it regularly over the top of your head to cool down mid-run.
- Take a pool break or a shower chill-down. During a run, it really helps to take a two- to four-minute dip in a pool or shower. Some runners in hot areas run loops around their neighborhoods and let the hose run over the head each lap. The pool is especially helpful in soaking out excess body temperature.
- Sun screen – Anytime you are outside, you need to protect your skin. Some products, however, produce a coating on the skin that slows down perspiration and produces an increase in body-temperature buildup.
- Drink six to eight ounces of a sports drink or water, at least every two hours or when thirsty, throughout the day during hot weather.
Hydration is key during the hot summer months. Hydrating before and after a run – drinking plenty of water will keep your body healthy and ready for any physical activity. We encourage you to get outside and break a sweat, but do so smartly! Cheers to the summer and having a healthy summer!