by Charles Weller

As we turn the clocks ahead with the approach of spring, so too do we turn our attention to the active outdoors. After keeping indoors during the colder months, we are ever ready to replace our indoor running shoes and sweatshirts with cycling shorts, hiking boots, swim suits and other adventure gear (depending on your locale of course!)

Now that daylight hours are becoming longer, and as there is an increase in outdoor activity, it is important not to underestimate the power of proper hydration. The new found sun and heat can take a toll on your body, particularly if you are not anticipating it or accustomed being outside. However, here are some ideas for how to stay hydrated.

For most recreational athletes, there are a few key ways to keep adequately hydrated:

• Eating a balanced diet with an abundance of greens & fruits (which are composed primarily of water)
• Avoiding excess alcohol intake
• Limiting your caffeine consumption, particularly close to extended outdoor activity (caffeine is a diuretic)
• Monitoring your body weight before and after activities, as high fluctuations may indicate excessive water loss
• Drinking water before thirst sets in
• Take an ample water supply on any extended activity

Sports Drinks or Water?

More than likely you will not necessarily need sports drinks to maintain proper hydration during outdoor exercise. Water is in fact the most beneficial thing during any extended activity. However, it is important to realize that during vigorous activities, particularly those that are outdoors and in the sun (where you will likely sweat abundantly), your body uses and loses more than just water.

In fact, because athletes typically deplete glycogen and electrolyte stores heavily during activity, hydration AND the replenishment of sodium, potassium, and other minerals is critical. So although, Mother Nature is obviously the preferred hydration source, it is important to consider circumstances when sports drinks (or even some fruit) can be helpful to maintain healthy body function.

When and How Much is Enough?

Research indicates that thirst is your body’s typical indicator for hydration. However, current studies have suggested that if you wait until you are thirsty during activity, then likely you aren’t staying properly hydrated. In fact, you should anticipate water intake in order to drink before thirst sets in, even drinking consistent, small amounts for the duration of the exercise period.

A good daily rule of hydration is:

Daily Intake: Female athletes – approximately 3/4 gallon & Male athletes – 1 gallon is appropriate – excluding additional fluid intake during exercise or activity.
Prior To Exercise: Hydrating prior to exercise with approximately 16-oz of water (over the course of the day before your activity)
During/Post Exercise: Consuming an additional 32-oz for each hour of exercise will help make sure you keep adequately hydrated.

In addition, maintaining a proper, healthy diet complete with greens and fruits will help ensure you stay hydrated and maintain a healthy supply of vital vitamins and nutrients.

Charles Weller
Charles Weller