The how, what, and when of dehydration

By Ea Francisco | Photo by Henri Meilhac/Unsplash

Summer in the Philippines is as unforgiving as it gets. It’s around this time of the year when people, not just athletes, are prone to heatstroke and dehydration. For those who still plan to do a lot exercise this summer, don’t underestimate your thirst because it’s the body’s delayed response to losing water. You shouldn‘t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. One way to check if you’re hydrated is through your urine. Light or colorless means you’re hydrated while dark yellow means otherwise.

Neglecting dehydration can also have physiological effects. A study from Podiatry Today says that exercises cause body weight loss through water loss. A loss of one to three percent of weight through this causes negative effects in performance and more than five percent ends in heatstroke.

Further, hydrating is necessary to cool down. When you exercise, your muscles generate heat, which increases your body temperature. Your body cools when heat attaches to the sweat and evaporates. Hydrating is necessary to replenish the lost fluids from sweating so that your body can cool down and avoid heat exhaustion. If dehydration continues, your heart rate increases and blood flow decreases, which further causes your body temperature to rise.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the suggested amount of water intake should be one to two glasses an hour prior to starting, one glass every 15 to 20 minutes during the workout, and around three glasses after exercising

How much water you take actually depends on a number of factors such as personal needs, length, and intensity of your workout as well as the weather. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the suggested amount of water intake should be one to two glasses an hour prior to starting, one glass every 15 to 20 minutes during the workout, and around three glasses after exercising. If you’re going to do a long workout that could last for more than an hour, it’s advised to bring a sports drink instead because it can replenish carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium.

It’s important to recognize signs of dehydration early on. A few basic symptoms of dehydration include headache, dizziness, cramps, and chills. In addition to water, you can eat foods rich in potassium such as bananas or drink electrolyte-rich drinks like coconut juice.