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Fitness Friday: Stay hydrated in severe heat

August 11, 2011

*My colleague, Ron Kaspriske, is off this week. So I thought it was a good time to review this previous posting on the effects of playing golf in extreme heat, and what you need to do to combat it. Ron will be back next week with another great Fitness Friday. And remember to check Saturday Morning Tip, tomorrow.

Roger Schiffman


*Whether or not you believe in global warming, one thing is for certain: New York City is suffering from the highest temperatures since the summer of 1977. So is Chicago. And Minneapolis. This past week, more than 15 states experienced heat indexes of more than 105 degrees. Yes, much of the country is experiencing a heat wave of unprecedented proportions. Here is one scary ABC News report. And at the same time, much of the country will be out playing golf. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 318 Americans die every year of heat-related illnesses. Most of these deaths could be avoided if people better understood the dangers. So how do you protect yourself from heat stroke and heat exhaustion? And how do you make sure your golf game doesn't suffer? Well, here are some great tips from the Texas Heart Institute that you should follow today, tomorrow and throughout the summer as you hit the fairways in 90+ degree temperatures. Good luck and stay cool (or at least hydrated)! And remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

How much water should I drink during exercise?

(Editor's note: Yes, golf counts as exercise, especially if you're walking and carrying your clubs.)

Exercising vigorously in hot and humid weather can be challenging and even dangerous. But you can safely exercise in hot weather if you take the proper precautions. One of the most important things to do is stay hydrated and decrease your exercise intensity on very hot days. Keeping your body hydrated during exercise helps replace the water lost from sweating and prevents fatigue and poor physical performance.

Feeling thirsty is not the best indicator of your body's water needs, because thirst occurs after your body is already dehydrated. Also, your thirst is usually satisfied even before your body's water supply is fully replaced. This means that during workouts, you should drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.

The amount of water your body needs to stay hydrated depends on your body weight, body temperature, and the type of exercise you are doing. If you are dehydrated after an exercise session, it will take time to replenish the body's water. Drink several glasses of water spaced out throughout the day. You are usually well hydrated if you pass a good amount of very light yellow or clear urine a couple of times before going to bed.

For workouts of less than 1-1/2 hours, you should

--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool or cold water 1 to 2 hours before you exercise.

--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool water or a sports drink 15 minutes before you exercise.

--Drink about 5 ounces (150 mL) of cool water every 10 minutes during exercise.

--Have about 34 ounces (1 L) of cool water on hand per hour.

--Drink about 16 ounces (500 mL) of cool or cold water or a sports drink just after exercise.

Other Pointers and Recommendations:

--Wear loose-fitting clothing that will allow air to circulate but protect you from the sun.

--Avoid direct exposure to the sun. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

--Do not take salt tablets. Salt tablets make dehydration worse because they drain the water from your body.

--Drink cool water rather than cold water, because the body absorbs cool water faster.

--Do not drink juices or sodas during exercise, because these drinks contain more than 10 percent carbohydrates (sugar) and are not absorbed well during exercise.

--It is okay to drink sports drinks because they usually contain less than 8 percent carbohydrates, but these can lead to too many calories if you drink too much of them.

Final point:

When it comes to workouts lasting less that 1-1/2 hours, there is no difference between drinking sports drinks and cool water to stay hydrated. Sports drinks do replenish the salt and minerals lost through sweating, although a healthy diet is usually adequate for this.

A final editor's note: Stay away from alcoholic beverages, even beer. Alcohol actually dehydrates you. You're just asking for trouble. In the heat, nothing is better for you than sports drinks in moderation and pure, clean cool water.