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Exercise can help with water retention

Jerry Vance
For the Appeal

Water consumption and its interaction with exercise is a common subject with the fitness group. It’s well known that lack of proper hydration can cut your athletic performance dramatically, and even result in death if dehydration becomes severe.

What is seldom discussed is the effect water retention has on a fit body. There are days when you feel heavy and one step behind the world in every move you make. Water retained in tissues from heavy salt consumption, constipation, or ovulation cycles can affect overall performance in any competition. It can also affect attitude and self image.

It’s not unusual to see a three-pound weight increases from one night of eating salty food. And, if you combine alcohol with salty food it compounds the problem. Drinking a lot of water does help, but the only real cure for sudden water weight gain is time and a lower salt intake.

So many prepared foods have sodium derivatives. Even diet sodas contain several types of sodium. Canned soups, lunch meats, pickles, cheese, snacks and even chocolate pudding are all loaded with salt. Some of us can take all that salt and not gain a pound and not feel the slightest reaction. But, most of my students notice the nights they eat pizza.

The less salt you consume, the less your body can adjust to added salt. It’s a continuous problem, and one that you always need to be aware of. Salt is slipped into so many foods to make them more flavorful, and thus to increase sales. Read your labels and count the sodium derivatives. You’re always better off with fresh, or frozen foods.

Ovulation cycles in women can build enough water in tissues to discourage the most conscientious woman, and it doesn’t help to say that the gain is only temporary.

There is a way to work out some of the extra water, and that is through sweating. Work up a good sweat for 30 minutes and you will feel a lot better, even when you replenish the lost water.

My answer for sudden water weight gain is usually the same. Stay off the scale for a day or two. Why torture yourself? You can take medication to help you rid yourself of excess water, but then you run the risk of dehydration when you work out. Watch your eating habits closely, give yourself three days to dump the extra, and keep drinking water.

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