How to Stay Hydrated in Hot Singapore

by Aktive Learning on October 30, 2012

By Natalie Black (guest contributor)

I once completed four paddling training sessions in the boiling hot sun over a weekend. It is truly no exaggeration when I tell you this – one of my dragon boating teammates received burns on the palms of his hands from doing push-ups on the concrete during our warm-up at 3pm in the afternoon. After we’d finished, standing on the beach at 5.45pm (nearly night-time), the sun’s heat was burning hot, equivalent to the midday heat, and you had to stand in the shade.

Improper hydration has serious consequences

Atlanta_NSC 2011_103
(photo: ESPNHS)

This led me to think about correct hydration during long exercise in extreme heat in Singapore. This is not to be taken lightly – if you don’t hydrate (drink water) properly, you can die. Our body is 70% to 80% water, so if the levels deplete, so do you.  The longer and more intense the exercise, the more hydration you need.

There is no one-size-fits-all guideline for how to hydrate properly because everyone exercises at different intensities, have different body compositions, sweats and drinks more or less etc.  As an athlete it’s important to not drink only when you feel thirsty – if you do this you are already de-hydrated. Your body craves water to survive.  You need to drink at regular intervals.

The side effects of dehydration is that your blood volume drops (remember we are 70% to 80% water), which makes your heart work HARDER to deliver that vital blood throughout your body, especially to your working muscles.  If you are de-hydrated and your blood volume drops you can experience muscle cramps, fatigue, disorientation, dizziness, headaches and nausea.  Dehydration can lead to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which could ultimately lead to death.

How to hydrate properly

To hydrate properly you MUST:

  • Drink at regular intervals.
  • Drink water BEFORE sessions and then also AFTER. Don’t immediately head for the beer!
  • Not just drink when you feel thirsty

Dry, hot and humid conditions require more attention to hydration needs.

Here’s how to tell how hydrated you are:

  • How Yellow is your Pee?  Dark yellow = dehydrated; Light yellow = adequately hydrated.
  • How much volume have you peed out? Small amounts that are dark yellow = dehydrated.  Large amounts that are light yellow = adequately hydrated.
  • Weigh yourself:  Take your pre-exercise weight and post-exercise weight.  Drink to replenish the weight you have lost. If you are heavier after your session, you are hydrating well. If you have lost weight – you haven’t consumed enough and must drink more.  The basic guidelines are: For every 1kg that you lose in body weight, you need to replenish with 1.2 liters of fluid (Equivalent to 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost)

More hydration tips

Tour du Life Omnium
(photo: Team Traveller)

Sports drinks should only be used (and are actually only helpful) for athletes who exercise at high intensity for more than 60 minutes. Drinking a can of 100PLUS which is a light sports drink would be very beneficial at the one hour mark in a session. Therefore, if you go out for a light 30 minute jog, water is actually more beneficial for you than anything else.

For ultra-marathon runners and triathletes doing between 3 to 5 hours of exercise continuously, a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade would be better for you as it contains more complex electrolytes and contains more carbohydrates to fuel your body.

The ultimate take home message is DRINK. Most importantly, drink water BEFORE your training session.  And then hydrate adequately during AND after your session.  Please stop and hydrate if feel light-headed, dizzy or cramping.

Also, it may help if you don’t exercise with a hangover because you’re already dehydrated!

By guest contributor Natalie Black, an accredited Exercise Physiologist who blogs at The Health Guru. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.

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