Water and fluid content in food

Summertime and hot weather increase your desire for water. You need the same amount of liquid during winter exercise as summer, but hot weather seems to accentuate the need for larger amounts of water. So how good is your summer hydration when it relates to exercise?

Light physical activity requires at least seven to 10 glasses of water per day plus the fluid you get in your daily food. You get a high percentage of your required fluid within your daily diet, but additional water should be ingested for your body to function properly during hot-weather exercise. Vegetables and fruits are about 80 percent water, bread about 35 percent, and rice or pasta dishes contain around 70 percent water. You can see that ingesting too little water is seldom a problem, unless you are participating in heavy physical activity.

Water is the best sports drink, and most athletes ingest large quantities. Sweet drinks don't satisfy thirst, and they can keep you from getting adequately hydrated. Your kidneys will regulate the water and sodium and potassium levels in your urine, depending on food ingestion, so there is usually no need for salt tablets or special sports drinks during hot-weather exercise.

Since the food you ingest before your workout can affect the fluid levels in your body, be aware that if you are dieting and exercising too, you may need more water. You might not be eating foods high enough in fluid content to keep you well hydrated.

Certain situations do require more water intake. If you have suffered a high fever, if you work out in a hot climate or a higher elevation than normal, if you have ingested a lot of alcohol or a lot of salty foods, your body will do better with more water and more of those fluid-filled foods for maximum sports performance. Water loss due to climate changes, altitude or illness will take as much as a week to correct. Drinking alcoholic or caffeine beverages will cause water loss because they act as diuretics and rob the body of water. Drinking two glasses of water before an exercise session will give you additional energy, but eating extra amounts of fruit and vegetables, especially in fresh form, will also help you go the longer distance.

So it seems to me that there is a real need for that extra glass of water in the summer, especially if you are doing physical exercise, even in an air-conditioned room. But the type of liquid you ingest is going to be your most important factor.

Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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