With the summer months in full swing, it is so important to know how to hydrate effectively while on the trail. Given that our bodies are around 60% water, even the lightest exercise can deplete our stores pretty quickly….. Add in some lengthy walks, exposure to sun and some warmer temperatures and this can happen all too quickly having some pretty nasty consequences!
10 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE HYDRATION WHILE HIKING:
- Prehydration- If you know that you are going to be doing some exercise in hotter than normal conditions, it is a good idea to consume water a couple of hours before setting off. Water plays a key role in maintaining body temperature, assisting with digestion and lubricating your tissues and joints
- Sipping- It is better to take sips of water frequently rather than chugging large amounts sporadically. Sipping gives you body a chance to absorb the fluid and you’ll have a better chance at maintaining a consistent and stable level of hydration
- Electrolytes– Sports drinks are formulated for exactly that- sports! Whilst they are not reccommended for people who are inactive due to a high sugar/salt content, the electrolytes they contain are essential to help your body to retain fluid whilst exercising and are essential for nerve and muscle function. When you sweat, you lose both water and electrolytes, so replacing both is critical. You can buy powders and tablets to pre-mix with water.
- Water packs– whether you prefer a bladder or a Camelbak hydration pack, these devices make it easy to access you water by wearing them on your body and having a tube to you mouth in a hands free convenient way. You are more likely to take frequent sips with easy access than reaching for a water bottle each time.
- Set a timer– If you tend to lose track of the last time you drank, set a timer on your watch to sound an alarm about every 20 minutes as a reminder to take a sip.
- Drink more at altitiude: Doing any activity at higher altitude can lead to dehydration. You’re less likely to crave water and feel thirsty at higher elevations, so it’s important to drink frequently.
- Wear sun protection: Getting a sunburn can expedite dehydration, so lather up with sunscreen or wear sun-protection clothing before heading out
- Don’t Overhydrate: Overhydration can cause something called hyponatremia, which is when the sodium levels in the blood become so diluted that cell function becomes impaired. In very extreme cases, hyponatremia may cause coma and even death. Frequent small sips of water and electrolytes will help prevent this.
- Trail Food: Fruit contains water, sugar, minerals and carbs and is a great easy snack to keep you fuelled and assist with maintaining hydration
- Post Hydration: Continue to drink water and replace fluids after your hike, regular sips for the remainder of the day or night will keep your hydration levels stable as your body continues to expel fluid after exercising
Listen to your body, make sure you’re well prepared and get out there and have fun!