It might not feel like it yet, but warmer weather is just around the corner — which is why now is a good time to talk about dehydration. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts should remain particularly attentive to this common health risk. Here’s why:
The Negative Effects of Dehydration
When the body is deprived of water, harmful fluid/mineral imbalances can occur in the body, causing problems such as decreased strength, reduced endurance, sugar cravings, bad breath, and mood swings. In severe cases, dehydration can even cause muscle injuries, migraine headaches, and mental impairment. One study conducted by Yale even suggested that marathon runners are at risk for short-term kidney damage due to the dehydrating effects of running 26 plus miles in one go.
Worried about how dehydration could be affecting you? Here’s the good news: dehydration is relatively easy to recognize, treat and prevent. Let’s discuss how.
Warning Signs of Dehydration
The sooner you recognize dehydration, the easier it will be to counter its effects and minimize its impact on your workout, your day, and your life. Here are the biggest red flags to watch for:
- Thirst. This is the body’s natural way of alerting us to the onset of dehydration — however, in the midst of physical activity, it can be difficult to notice. In more severe cases of dehydration, thirst may be accompanied by a dry, sticky mouth.
- Reduced Urination. In addition to paying attention to how much you urinate, the color of your urine is also worth noting. Dark yellow urine is a tell-tale sign of dehydration. In severe dehydration, people may stop urinating altogether.
- Dry, cool skin. Typically, this condition will be noted first in the extremities, before moving toward the center of the body. Extreme cases could include discomfort or cracking of the skin.
- A headache or dizziness. Anyone who has ever experienced a dehydration headache knows exactly what we are referring to, and it isn’t pleasant!
- Muscle cramps. Because the muscles are more than 75% water, it should come as no surprise that dehydration can impair normal functioning. In extreme cases, an injury could even result as a consequence of extreme dehydration.
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing. This indicates severe dehydration, so if you find yourself experiencing these symptoms cease physical activity immediately and begin slowly replenishing fluids.
- Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion, irritability, or fainting. In the event that a dehydrated person demonstrates reduced ability to interact with their surroundings, medical attention should be sought immediately.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — which is why we highly recommend taking these preventative measures against dehydration:
- Drink lots of water before physical activity and bring a portable bottle with you whenever possible.
- Use sports drinks only during exercise, and only if you plan on exercising continuously for at least one hour.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, especially on days that you plan on exercising.
- Stop working out if you begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy.
A Healthier Lifestyle Starts Today
From ensuring proper hydration to exercising regularly to opting for a nutritious diet — a healthy lifestyle starts with the simple choices you make every day. Visit Top Fitness Mag online today to continue learning about important health and fitness topics.