With the warmer weather upon us, we need to talk about hydration – or more importantly thermoregulation!
Our bodies need to regulate its internal temperature in response to environmental changes and exercise.
But how does this happen?
Our bodies do this by responding to thermoreceptors – and we have two:
- Receptors in the hypothalamus – monitor temperature by way of our blood as it passes through the brain – AKA our core temperature.
- Receptors in our skin that monitor external temperature.
The body likes receiving information from both receptors so it can make the right adjustments and respond systematically.
While at first we respond voluntarily, by taking off a layer if we’re hot and popping one on if we’re feeling cold, when these responses aren’t enough, an involuntary response takes over as the body reverts back to the hypothalamus. The result? Our body responds automatically like when the hairs on your arms stand up or our sweat glands are activated.
So, what’s dehydration got to do with it?
Put simply, just a two per cent decrease in body fluid results in impaired performance and worse still, the more dehydrated you become, the slower you’re subsequently able to absorb fluid too.
Dry skin, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue are just a few signs of dehydration.
Here’s how to combat it…
- 24 hours before exercise: avoid consuming too much alcohol and caffeine and fuel up with veggies, fruit and complex carbohydrates.
- 2 hours before exercise: drink two cups of water.
- During exercise (lasting less than an hour): drink water every 15 minutes to prevent dehydration.
- During exercise (lasting more than an hour): eat a small snack and replenish electrolytes by drinking something like coconut water every 15 minutes.
While these are simply guidelines, it’s important to never restrict fluids during or after exercise. Also be mindful of heat exhaustion (which can occur when our body temperature is raised to between 37–40°) and if your pulse quickens, you can’t catch your breath or you find your coordination feels a bit off, this could be a sign of heat exhaustion.
If you feel these symptoms coming on the key is to rest up in a shady spot and rehydrate. And, if you’re still not feeling better within 30 minutes, seek medical assistance as you could be suffering from heat stroke.