Just like a car, your body is a machine that needs fluids to operate efficiently. In fact, your body is more than 60% water, and even light exercise can deplete that percentage. No fluid means no function, and suddenly it's you stranded on the trail with an overtaxed body. This loss of fluid is called dehydration. And hydrating, or adding fluids, is the key to keeping it from happening to you.
Once you've reached the point of feeling thirsty, dehydration has already begun. If left this way, the body will continue to provide signs that it is running low. Early signs include a dry mouth and a decrease in energy. These can quickly lead to cramps, headaches and nausea.
The cure to all this unpleasantness is as close as a glass of water. Experts recommend the following to make sure you are well hydrated while exercising:
Finally, make sure your fluids are close at hand. When you're 2 miles into a hike, your water bottle is not much good to you sitting in your car. REI has a wide variety of hydration systems to help you carry your water with you and keep you hydrated.
Too much of a good thing, even water, can have negative side effects. The flip-side to dehydration is over-hydration, or hyponatremia. This is a fairly rare condition which mainly affects endurance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes. In hyponatremia, sodium levels in the blood become so diluted that cell function becomes impaired. In extreme cases, hyponatremia may cause coma and even death.
By T.D. Wood
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Last updated: Thu Jan 03 12:39:26 PST 2013
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