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Hydrate When Hiking…or skiing, skating, tubing and tacking!
Whether enjoying a winter wonderland snow sport holiday or summer sun scenic break, it always pays to think and drink long and hard to avoid dehydration.
Adrenaline charged activity coupled with high altitude; intense heat; or sub-zero temperatures, calls for more than just a glass or two of water!
The problem of dehydration
Intense or sustained activity takes its toll on the body’s level of hydration. When in high altitude settings or extremes of heat and cold, the loss of fluid from the system increases. Sweating in hot conditions is well recognised, but less obvious is the impact that cold temperatures have on fluid loss.
Dehydration not only decreases sporting performance, it also presents significant health problems. Sweating through heat, altitude or endurance performance, causes the heart to work harder and can result in a drop in blood volume. The impact of lowered blood volume in the system is to cause muscle cramps, dizziness and marked fatigue.
How to tell if you’re dehydrated
Everyone’s need for hydration during sporting activity, soaking up the sun, shivering in the snow – and especially when being active at altitude – varies. Factors determining individual hydration needs include:
- differing levels of activity
- intensity of activity
- and variability in perspiration.
The best and easiest test to take to determine whether or not dehydration is a problem, is to take a wee pee!
Light coloured urine indicates a satisfactory level of hydration, whereas dark coloured urine is indicative of dehydration.
When participating in sports in high altitude places, it is particularly important to ensure that healthy hydration is taken. Whilst ordinary water is good, fluids containing electrolytes should be seriously considered to replace those lost through perspiring. Specialist sports drinks or electrolyte enriched tablets to add to water are a must for performance, endurance and healthiness, when undertaking any activity in extremes of temperature and at high altitude.
As a rough guide, during activity approximately 8-10 fluid ounces should be taken every 10-15 minutes. When undertaking prolonged activity (over 90 minutes) 8-10 fluid ounces of electrolyte enriched drink every 15 – 30 minutes is recommended.
Hydration following activity is also important to replace the fluid lost through sweating. As a rule of thumb, 20-24 fluid ounces of water should be taken for every lb weight lost during activity.
Although rare, it is possible to drink too much water!
Hyponatremia (water intoxification) reduces the sodium concentration in the blood resulting in a serious medical emergency. Symptoms include confusion, hallucinations, headaches, irritability, muscle spasms or cramps, nausea and vomiting.
So if you happen to be on holiday in Austria – for example, staying in this traditional rustic style all season holiday chalet - keep yourself well hydrated with the local specialist brews. And up on the mountain make sure you have ample hydration of the electrolyte kind!