As we roll into the summer months we get to experience the always interesting Michigan weather. So far this year we’ve already had heat indexes in the upper nineties. As we ride or exercise in anyway on these hot, humid days we need to be aware of our fluid intake. Hydration during these hot and humid days is the key to staying healthy, active, and competitive.
When we exercise by riding, running, or even just playing our muscles are constantly firing. As our muscles contract they produce heat as a by-product. This heat can build up within the body causing Hyperthermia or having a core temperature that is too high. Luckily our body defends us against Hyperthermia by sweating. As we sweat our skin is cooled by the evaporation of the sweat, the blood in the capillaries under our skin is then cooled and is taken back to cool our bodies core, as well as the muscles that are being worked. Unfortunately when it’s humid, like Michigan tends to be, our sweat doesn’t evaporate very well and we tend to sweat more with less of a cooling effect. Thus losing much needed fluids from our system. If these fluids are not replaced our body will start to shut down starting with heat cramps, characterized by the cramping of skeletal muscle due to a loss of electrolytes, these cramps usually occur in the legs. If heat cramps are left untreated, then heat exhaustion can occur. Heat exhaustion is characterized by profuse sweating, extreme thirst, an intense feeling of fatigue, an increase in your body's core temperature, and even fainting from a sudden drop in blood pressure. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, meaning that the body's ability to cool itself has shut down and the core temperature has increased above 105 degrees. Other symptoms of heat stroke are:skin that is hot to the touch, dizziness, clumsiness, stumbling, confusion, and changes in mental state. As it is a medical emergency, those individuals suffering from Heat Stoke need medical attention right away or death can occur in as few as twenty minutes. The good news is that all of these serious complications can be prevented simply by drinking the appropriate amount of fluids.
The competitive athlete is even more predisposed to having hydration related heat injuries. The focus of the competition, race, or event often blocks out the thoughts of thirst and fluid replacement. However if our rides are over an hour long we need to be drinking at least 24oz of fluid to replace any fluids lost to sweating. If we lose just 2% of our body weight in
fluid loss we will decrease our performance ability by 10%. That’s only 2-4lbs of water weight lost for most of us, to greatly affect our performance. Sports drinks with increased electrolytes and carbohydrates allow for faster absorption of fluids, however, we need to be careful with sports drinks, as taking in too much sodium can upset the osmotic balance of our cells which can lead to more hydration problems. For every sports drink that you consume, you should be drinking at least that much water before your next sports drink. It’s crucial too, to continue to rehydrate post exercise. After exercise we should drink 100-150% of any fluid lost during exercise. This will help to get our body fluid levels back to normal, as well as prepare our body for our next work out.
Check out some great products to help keep you hydrated as you ride through the upcoming summer. PowerAde or Cytomax powders will keep your muscles firing all summer, while Acclerade has added protein to help minimize any muscle breakdown. Endurox R4 is a great Recovery drink mix that will have you ready to increase our mileage from day to day.
Gus Hemingway ATC