June 23rd was (opens in a new tab) and just by taking a step outside, you might quickly understand why. Temperatures are soaring this summer, and as the thermometer goes up and up, the need for proper hydration increases -- as does your risk of becoming dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke. These facts are especially true if you’re an athlete or tactical worker who spends time outdoors.
wants all of his patients -- including workers and athletes -- to understand the importance of hydration in high temperatures. Here are some of the best ways you can keep yourself healthy, safe, and effectively hydrated throughout your summer fitness routine:
1. Avoid Overhydrating
Ever heard the phrase “too much of a good thing?” Believe it or not, there is such a thing as drinking too much water, especially if you’re an endurance runner (or a worker or athlete for whom endurance is especially important). (opens in a new tab)is a condition that can occur when the amount of water present in your body exceeds the amount of sodium present in order to balance it out. This causes your cells themselves to swell, resulting in the following uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening symptoms:
- Rapid loss of energy
- Vomiting and nausea
- Muscle weakness and cramps
In serious cases, hyponatremia can lead to seizures, or even put you in a coma. To avoid hyponatremia during endurance runs and other strenuous activities, be sure to pace yourself as you hydrate!
2. Skip the Sports Drinks
Because they’re flavorful and advertised to have all sorts of benefits (electrolytes, taurine, etc), many athletes are tempted to replace their water jug with a bottle of Gatorade or other sports drinks. The fact is, there’s nothing better than to rehydrate your cells after strenuous physical activity. Sports drinks contain copious amounts of sugar that can actually dry you out significantly faster than water -- not to mention the additional calories present in sports drinks that can take their toll on your fitness goals. As long as you stick to H2O, your body and your wallet will thank you.
3. Optimize Your Recovery
While you should never underestimate your body’s ability to restore itself when given proper hydration, there are strategies you can employ when you’re thirsty to help yourself recover quickly and effectively on a cellular level. Dr. Turner recommends that his patients -- especially athletes -- rehydrate immediately after any sort of workout (that means bring your water bottle with you to the gym or trail instead of leaving it in the car), then add a pinch or two of sea salt to provide your body with natural, sugar-free electrolytes.
Hydration isn’t just key to optimizing your physical performance during athletic or fitness-related activities -- it’s important to your health. Staying properly hydrated during the hot summer months will keep your body safe, allowing you to stay fit and in the game all year long.