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Always Stay Hydrated

Hydrating during exercise becomes increasingly important during hot summer weather. The human body is made of up to 75% water. Sweating is the way the body maintains its core temperature which results in a loss of fluid and electrolytes. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, or the eyes may stop watering. Dehydration can also cause nausea and vomiting due to reduced blood flow to the digestive system.

It is almost impossible to provide specific recommendations about the amount of fluids to consume while exercising due to the variability of sweats rates, fluid loss among individuals and the length and intensity of the exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink around 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise, and 8-10 fluid ounces every 10-15 minutes during exercise. If you are engaging in less than 60 minutes of exercise you do not need to include a carbohydrate in your drink; water will work fine. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates to help delay fatigue by providing energy. Gatorade Company lab tests have shown that 6% carbohydrate (14 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces of water) is the optimal percentage of carbs for speeding fluid and energy back into the body. Contrary to rumors, cold drinks are not absorbed into your body quicker than warm ones, but are just more palatable. Flavored waters or sports drinks are often recommended while hydrating because they are also more palatable.

To monitor fluid loss you can weigh yourself before and after exercise since any weight lost is mostly likely attributed to fluid. For every one pound lost during exercise you should drink around 20-24 fluid ounces to hydrate. Drinking excessive amounts of water can result in hyponatremia, which is a low concentration of sodium in the blood. While sweating, the skin excretes sodium. Although very rare, hyponatremia can cause a serious medical emergency. Signs of over hydration can include convulsions, disoriented behavior, coma, and even death.

In conclusion, staying hydrated while exercising is crucial especially during hot weather. Dehydration can cause severe negative effects that may alter performance or ability to participate in exercise. A large part of the human body’s composition consists of water so drinking plenty of fluids regularly is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Shannon Elqorchi MPT, is a physical therapist with North Pocono ProCare Physical Therapy in Moscow.  If there are questions or you would like to suggest topics for future articles please contact Shannon at  

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles, General Health, Diet and Exercise, Athletic Training


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