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The Importance of Staying Hydrated During Exercise

There’s something about summer that sensitizes even Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen,” and sends him singing.

But when the heat rolls in, it’s the beginning of our battle to balance exercise and play beneath the blazing sun. If we’re not careful, we could overheat as quickly as the engine of a car stuck in bumper-to-bumper beach traffic.

“Emergency rooms and physicians’ offices fill up every year with people who weren’t exercising safely in the heat and then end up with dehydration, heat exhaustion or heatstroke,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Mulligan, an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson and AAA member.

Older adults and children are among those most susceptible to heat-related illnesses. But young and healthy adults who participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather can also be affected.

Here are just a few prevention strategies.

  • Schedule hikes, workouts, practices and play early or late in the day, when temperatures are usually cooler.
  • Wear lightweight, light- colored and loose clothing.
  • Slather on sunscreen and reapply as directed.

But if there is a single best preventive measure, it is drinking water.

“Our bodies crave water,” Mulligan said. “This becomes especially true during periods of high-intensity activity or extended heat exposure.”

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily and increasing the amount before, during and after exercise – especially when in outdoor heat.

Water should be readily accessible, and consumed regularly during athletic activities.

The need for water is especially important as we get older.

“It is critically important for older adults to hydrate,” said Barbara Resnick, a geriatrics nurse practitioner and past president of the American Geriatrics Society. “It’s No. 1. Their thirst drive is not the same as a younger person’s – their bodies don’t tell them they’re thirsty.”

Also read: Good Workout Plans for Warm Weather.

What types of physical activity do you enjoy in the summer? Share ideas with our readers in the comments section.

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