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Kristina Labanauskas
Kristina Labanauskas
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Deadly combo: dehydration, exercise and heat

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Summer may be winding down, but there still are a lot of hot days left in the season. So for anyone who exercises outside in the heat or inside without air conditioning or for people out and about on any given summer day, here’s some advice: hydrate.

When temperatures are greater than skin temperatures, the body’s ability to release heat is compromised. In fact, organs and chemical reactions only work within a certain temperature range. Gong above this range leads to hyperthermia, or being too hot, which causes dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. This can lead to cardiac problems, even death.

In hot conditions, 2-3 liters of water can be lost per hour, which is about twice as much as what your stomach can absorb. This makes preventative hydration essential, especially when exercising. In fact, water is necessary for proper muscle contraction and blood flow.

During perspiration, sweat evaporates from skin which cools the body. But, high humidity prevents evaporation, which means the body doesn’t cool off. Thus, tell tales signs of mild dehydration include sweating and a flushed appearance. And when dehydration worsens, those signs cease altogether.

Here are some ways to protect yourself in the heat:

Drink fluids with and between meals and before exercise, but never more than two pints at a time.

Eat fruits and vegetables (they’re 95 percent water).

Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic and carbonated beverages.

During summer exercise, drink 8-12 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, less for very long-lasting activity.

After 30 minutes, replenish electrolytes, in particular sodium, which stimulates water absorption from your small intestine.

Drink at least 16 fluid ounces after exercise.

Weigh yourself before and after exercise. For each pound lost during exercise, drink a pint of water afterward.