Heat, Hydration & Exercise

We all know we should stay hydrated when exercising, especially in the summer, but energy drinks are apparently not what our bodies need. Andy Moodle of qualityhealth.com reports that “The proliferation of booster beverages…on the market has health professionals and organizations calling for more warning labels about the dangers of energy drinks.” According to his article, these high-caffeine, high-sugar drinks can cause dental decay, energy highs and crashes, headaches and heart palpitations, poor perception of intoxication, higher risk of injury and increased risk taking.

Anne Thimm, about.com, reiterates the fact that high-caffeine drinks are not a good idea for exercisers. “While most sports drinks are non-caffeinated and meant to replenish fluids lost in exercise, energy drinks have a large dose of caffeine and caffeine-like stimulants (such as guarana). These can lead to dehydration, according to Dee Rollins, R.D., Ph.D., dietitian with Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, Texas.”

Though sports drinks are better than energy drinks for hydration and electrolyte replacement, they’re often high in sugar. Laura Dolson, also writing for about.com, offers the following recipe for a sugarless sports drink:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) water (not carbonated)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • small pinch of salt
  • Flavoring and sweetener to taste

How about good old-fashioned water? Some articles I read didn’t even mention water as source of hydration, possibly because of a concern that people receive adequate electrolyte replacement. Thomas Gilliam, coauthor of move It. Lose It. Live Healthy writes: “For most individuals, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will provide you all the electrolytes lost during your exercise routine. Many processed foods contain plenty of sodium and chloride. So really, the average person doesn’t need sports drinks at all.” I’d skip the processed foods and add some salt to my veggies.

Several websites I looked at suggested we drink eight ounces of water for every fifteen minutes we exercise—or a quart an hour. Gilliam suggests drinking sixteen ounces of fluid prior to a workout, small quantities during a workout and another sixteen ounces after a workout.

Fill your water bottle, grab your walking, running, gardening, hiking or biking shoes and enjoy the great outdoors this summer. Happy Independence Day! Becky

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