With summer in full swing, staying active can be challenging. Other than the global health pandemic, there is also an ongoing heatwave across much of North America with no sign of it letting up anytime soon.
With the heat comes several health concerns. Yes, you should be applying zinc oxide sunscreen regularly and paying attention to your pets and garden’s needs, but you also need to be aware of your summer hydration needs. This is doubly true if you play outdoor sports, love to go for long hikes, or jog for long distances.
Staying hydrated is something you need to focus on as heat lingers overnight and into the evenings. And contrary to popular belief, staying hydrated in summer weather isn’t simply a matter of drinking enough water. You also need to pay attention to electrolytes!
Water Isn’t Always Best for Summer Hydration
Our bodies sweat for several reasons. For one, sweat keeps us cool; the water that evaporates off our skin’s surface carries away excess heat. One of the primary components of sweat that gets lost in the mix but happens to be quite useful for most bodily processes are electrolytes. Electrolytes are simply a collection of minerals that include sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. These minerals. Electrolytes plays several roles in our bodies, including muscle contraction.
Electrolytes carry signals to muscle fibers that tell your muscles how to function. If you sweat long enough, you’ll lose quite a bit of the electrolytes in your body’s fluids.
However, when we don’t have enough electrolytes, our muscles no longer contract and release in a normal way. The first sign that your body is low on salts is cramping. If you’ve ever had a cramp, you know how painful it is.
What you may not know is that a cramp can be a sign of dehydration and low electrolyte levels, as well as a precursor to more serious hot weather maladies such as heat exhaustion and sunstroke. If you find that you stop sweating, feel cold, or begin to experience cloudy thinking or slurred speech, you may be putting your health at risk.
While electrolytes alone won’t prevent heat-related problems, they are one part of being safe.
Best Practices for Staying Healthy in the Sun
To prevent cramping and general dehydration and electrolyte loss, there are a number of practical solutions and supplements that may help. Let’s start with supplements first.
Metabolic Maintenance offers Optimal Electrolyte Powder, which is a pre-formulated powder with electrolytes and minerals that you can add to any bottle of water. You can also take Spaz Out, which comes in a capsule form and seeks to help balance the body with essential minerals that may be lost in physical activity.
Sport Hydrator from Vega is a flavorful drink additive that provides electrolytes and 100% of your daily vitamin C per serving.
All of these products, when mixed with an appropriate amount of water, can replenish the electrolytes you lose during summer exercise and sports. This will help you maximize your energy during hot weather activities while preventing cramping and more serious injuries that can be the result of dehydration.
If you are taking part in summer activities, staying sun-smart is also important. We recommend putting on sunscreen anytime you plan to be in the sun for more than a couple of minutes, as even the briefest sun exposure adds up over the course of your life.
If you’re going to be in the sun for extended periods of time, sunscreen is essential, as a sunburn dehydrates your skin, can lead to unsafe changes in blood pressure, skin damage, and loss of consciousness. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going into the sun, and reapply every 80 minutes or sooner if you are wiping your skin with a towel as this can remove the protective layer.
Always make sure you have access to shade, water, and air conditioning, especially if you are sensitive to the heat and sun. This is especially important if you find yourself on a beach with friends or family, where you may forget to take care of yourself because you’re having fun, or because there is social pressure to stay out too long in hot weather.
As summer enters its hottest days, we hope that you can beat the heat. But if you do enjoy outdoor activities, that you stay hydrated and healthy for the rest of the summer !