What A Strange (and dangerous) Sight
It's HOT here in the Northeast! Many of you know that I'm not such a morning runner; I prefer afternoon/evening. But it is hot. If any running is happening, it's happening in the morning these days, before we climb well into the 90s. If I can get out while it's still in the 80s, I have a much better chance of not getting into a dangerous heat/dehydration state.
But there she was all bundled up, running - and sweating. It reminded me of my little brother in high school. He was a wrestler. He and his teammates would often try desperate measures to make weight - sitting in the "hot box" in sweats, spitting for hours into a cup - trying to get rid of mere ounces of water weight. They had reasons - if they were just a fraction of a pound over, they could not compete. Tough break to not win a state championship because of drinking too much soda. But that doesn't mean it was healthy.
It also reminded me of lots of articles in various fashion magazines when I was younger about losing those last few pounds before a big event. These articles never mentioned the truth: if you want to look a certain way or fit into a particular dress for prom/reunion/wedding, you have to plan ahead - months ahead. Instead they offered desperate women desperate, and ineffective and potentially dangerous, solutions. Sit in a sauna in sweats, wear a plastic bag under your sweats, wrap your thighs/stomach in plastic wrap (!?!) for quick, spot reductions.
The truth is that none of those ideas even make any sense. No, you can't do "spot" reductions; you lose weight across your whole body, not just your thighs. Loosing water weight is just temporary. And loosing too much water is simply dangerous.
Our bodies need water to function. Water carries nutrients to our cells and carries away waste. It helps us maintain our temperature. Our muscles are made up of about 70% water. Without adequate water, our muscles and core temperature rise and can overheat. Our muscles have to work harder, using up more of their glycogen stores - fuel. Overworking our muscles unnecessarily is not just a matter of comfort; it's a matter of safety. Our heart is our most important muscle. Inadequate fluid has the same effect on our heart as other muscles.
I don't actually know why she was running in that outfit - maybe it's all that was clean and she really wanted to get in her workout. But as I was struggling to deal with the heat and stay hydrated, she really surprised me and got me thinking a lot more about hydration. There's no way I can stress enough just how important proper hydration is when exercising.
If you're going to be out in the heat, carry water with you. I always carry at least a small hand-held water bottle with me. Start drinking early - before you feel parched. By the time you feel thirsty, you're already well on your way to dehydration. And drink often. If you wait until you're really parched and then drink a whole lot of water, you can have just as many problems as if you don't drink enough. You can flood your system, throwing your electrolyte balance off. Better to drink small amounts often. And if you're doing any longer, endurance kind of exercise, you might try taking electrolyte capsules or mixing some electrolyte powder into your water.
Also, stay in the shade as much as possible. Reschedule your workouts if you need to. Perhaps go for a swim instead of a run. I moved my long run to tomorrow rather than today because the weather is supposed to break - tomorrow might be overcast and only in the 80s. And keep an eye out for signs of trouble: severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat (hard to tell if you're already working out), disorientation. These can be signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Get to a cool place, sprinkle cool water on yourself, lie down and elevate your legs, drink something cool, and get medical help if your symptoms get worse.
There's no need to not get your exercise just because it's hot, just do it safely.
- BY Julie Goodale | 06.22.2012
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