Exercising In The Heat

Paula AliaThe summer weather in Southwest Florida is typically very hot and humid. August and September is always hot and usually a minor transition in weather occurs in mid-October. The average temperature in August and September is 93 degrees with a low of 74 versus 88 and a low of 69 in October. As in July, these next three months of hot weather warrant all to take caution and drink enough water.

The human body is made up of about 70% water, thus making it crucial for our survival. Not only is water pertinent in helping to cleanse the body, it is used in many chemical reactions in the body. First, if dehydrated, the body will leach the fluids out of your bloodstream and the normal blood plasma count may be altered. Secondly, water helps lubricate the body and helps normal liver, kidney, bowel, and other bodily functions. Finally, every single muscle contraction utilizes something called adenosine triphosphate (ATP ). The chemical reactions that produce this ATP as our energy source are anaerobic (without oxygen) and aerobic (with oxygen) metabolism, how we break down our food sources. To split and use this ATP in the body, water is needed and if not, muscle contractions in exercises as we know them could not exist.

All of us exercise to some extent. Simple exercises to get up and down from a chair and walking with a walker use this ATP while runners, cyclists, and other exercisers use a lot more to compete. All need adequate water in the body to allow for normal body functions and for the breakdown of this ATP for energy.

It is common that when I ask people if they drink enough water, the response is usually, “Yes.” The question arises on the amount of water that we should intake. As a rule, it is safe to say that we should drink half of our body weight in ounces per day. At that point, most people do the calculations and then realize that they do not drink nearly enoExercisingugh.

In the heat of the summer and when exercising, one must really pay attention to water intake. One of the ways that we release heat and try and cool our body is sweating. Losing fluids through our glands and skin allows for evaporation and thus we get a cooling effect. Everybody’s cooling and sweating mechanisms do vary as some sweat a lot more than others. If you go into a heat stress mode, sweating usually increases, but as you progress towards heat stroke, the sweating stops and your body may overheat causing a life- threatening situation.

Now that you understand how much water you need, planning to drink throughout the day is pertinent to your everyday health. How do you reach the right goals? The idea is to take in fluids throughout the day in small amounts. Not drinking then drinking a substantial amount is hard on your kidneys. Small amounts of water to continue hydration is key.

In addition to drinking water, there are many foods that have high water content that are actually cooling foods. Some examples of cooling foods that are water-packed are watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, and peppermint. The idea is to chew your foods into liquid in your mouth before swallowing. This allows for less need of digestion and allows for its absorption into the body. Drinking coffee and alcohol actually dehydrate the body so substituting with these drinks does not work.

In conclusion, whatever you are doing this summer, make sure that you get plenty of water and eat cooling foods so that you can combat the heat with proper cooling mechanisms of the body while still being able to maintain your normal body metabolism and perform well in your exercise regime. If desired, the internet has lists of the cooling foods that can assist you in getting more fluids for your body. Be smart! Be healthy! Stay hydrated! Here’s to your health! For further information you can call me at 239.263.9348 at Fitness Together in Downtown Naples. It is never too late to work on you!

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