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The scorching summer heat has increased the risk of dehydration and other heat related conditions for citizens unable to escape the extreme weather.  Even early morning, a typically prime time for avid Masters Athletes to enjoy their outdoor workout, is unfavourably warm in some regions; increasing the risk factor for significant fluid loss.

Dehydration occurs when your body sweats out more than one to two pounds of your body’s weight.  During the summer season, when temperatures and humidity become extremely high, the risk of becoming dehydrated while exercising increases dramatically.  Severe parchment can quickly become life threatening if ignored so recognizing your body’s warning signs is vital.

Symptoms in older athletes include:

  • Dizziness
  • Head aches
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Confusion
  • Trouble walking
  • Loss of sweat production
  • Reduced ability to produce tears
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypotension, or lowered blood pressure.  

For aging athletes, fluid loss is even more risky because the body is already producing less water through natural loss of muscle tissue, deterioration of thirst sensors, diminished organ function, and changing responses to heat and cold.  Adding to the hazards, most people today are chronically hypo-hydrated, meaning they are not drinking enough water during the day to meet their minimum intake needs.

Maintaining proper hydration is an important part of health and performance. For Masters Athletes, it is even more essential to know your body and listen to the signs and symptoms so you will understand when you need to quench your thirst. These steps will help you reduce your risk:

Monitor Your Fluid Intake

Along with recognizing early signs and symptoms, another more common way to monitor your fluid intake is by weighing yourself before and after your athletic training. By stepping on the scale before your sport, you will have a number that you can use a baseline. After your fitness, weigh yourself again to observe your fluid intake. If you are two pounds heavier, you have consumed too much water. However, if you have lost two or more pounds during your fitness regime, that is a sign you are dehydrated and should drink more.

Drink Before You Exercise

As a high-performance mature athlete, you should drink water at least an hour before starting your workout so your body will be adequately hydrated before you even begin. Many athletes are chronically hypo hydrated before they even begin their sport so drinking water before will fill the tissues with the much-needed fluids needed to start their day.

Include a Hydration Routine in Your Daily Diet

Most people do not drink enough water on a regular basis to meet their body’s minimum fluid requirements. To prevent hypohydration, it is important to include a water consumption routine in your daily diet. On average, men should drink between 3 – 4 litres of water daily while women should consume between 2 – 3 litres per day.

Know your Body

Understanding your body is vital during any high endurance sport. Because everyone’s fluid needs are different, what works for one, will not work for the other when maintaining good hydration. Knowing what you can do and what your tissues need to perform optimally will help you plan for all situations. Understanding and appreciating the natural changes that are part of aging will help you adapt your training and routine to meet your personal needs.

Drink When You Feel Thirsty

Thirst is one of the first indicators of dehydration. By recognizing the warning signals your body is giving and replenishing your body of much needed H2O, you can maintain proper hydration, reducing your chances of becoming more severely dehydrated. However, drinking for the sake of consuming fluids is not going to help you stay hydrated or improve your performance. Hyperhydration can occur when you drink too much water. To prevent this, drink when you feel thirsty.

Know the Difference between Dehydration and Hyponatremia

Another condition that can occur during intense exercise is Hyponatremia. This occurs when the body loses too much salt or saline when sweating. Symptoms of Hyponatremia include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma  

Sports drinks are designed to replenish the saline and electrolytes lost during intense outdoor physical activity. Mild effects can impact your performance, but severe hyponatremia can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness and even death.  For athletes, drinking water only during high endurance physical fitness can dilute the body’s fluids causing an imbalance in the electrolytes resulting in hyponatremia. Drinking water alone will only aggravate the condition. Replenishing the saline levels in the body and staying hydrated is key to maintaining good health during intense exercise out of doors.

During the hot summer days, water related emergencies can occur quickly in Masters Athletes. Knowing your body and its evolving needs is essential to prevent life threatening medical emergencies that can result from unbalanced water consumption.


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