Fitness with Jennifer Hale

Louisiana summers deliver a serious sweat for outdoor athletes of all ages and levels, not just pros like the Saints players, who endure training camp under this scorching sun. Professional athletes do however enjoy expert advice on how to handle trying conditions. This month, three of the best minds in the game are sharing inside tips about how you or your children can perform safely at your peak level during the hottest months of the year.
Thibodaux Regional Medical Center’s Larry D’Antoni oversees the athletic training staff that keeps campers at the Manning Passing Academy going all week through brutal heat. Hydration is one of his staff’s biggest concerns throughout the nationally renowned football camp.
D’Antoni sets fluid intake goals based on an athlete’s weight, activity and age. “Your needed amount of fluids correlates to approximately 1.2-1.6 ounces of water per pound of body weight,” D’Antoni explains when I asked him to break down how us lay folks can calculate the amount of fluid we need in the summer sun. “You can certainly become dehydrated working indoors and outdoors.  The big difference between outdoors and indoors is the temperature and amount of direct sunlight, especially if the indoor area is air-conditioned.  A good rule of thumb: weigh yourself before and after exercise.  You should consume 8-12 ounces of fluid per pound lost during exercise, plus the fluid you consume daily.”
Dr. Andrew Gottschalk, team physician for the Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, says the amount of fluid your body needs to exercise at its optimal level varies as seasons change. “The hotter the weather, the harder your body needs to work to get rid of excess heat,” Gottschalk says. “One of the ways your body gets rid of heat is by evaporating sweat. The more sweat you lose to evaporation, the more water you need to replace it.”
If you or your loved one is exercising in our signature summer heat, be aware of the signs of dehydration. They can present themselves simply enough before symptoms morph into tell-take clues.
“When you’re overheating, you don’t feel well,” Gottschalk says. “You feel ‘off.’ You might feel faint or dizzy. You’re likely thirsty. Weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps are other indicators that your body is overheated.”
If you start feeling these symptoms when exercising this summer, here’s a winning game plan, according to Chronos Body Health and Wellness nutritional therapist, Marci Cahill-Leach. “Sip SMALL amounts of water because drinking too much too fast can cause your body to reject the fluid and induce vomiting,” says Cahill-Leach. “Drink liquids like water, electrolytes and sports drinks or try sucking on popsicles or ice chips. Monitor the recovery process in case a trip to the hospital is necessary.”
I’ve been covering the NFL as a sideline reporter for nine seasons now, and every September, it seems I do a story on the pre-hydration process for teams playing in outdoor stadiums like Tampa or Miami. While a weekend warrior or prep player likely doesn’t need to spend all week hydrating like the pros do, Cahill-Leach suggests an emphasis on drinking more during the 24 hours leading up to an event under the sun.
“Drink 16 ounces BEFORE bed the night before,” she says. “Drink 16 ounces when you wake up and then another 16 to 20 ounces two hours prior to your game or race, provided the event is not in the morning.”
How do you know if you’ve hydrated well enough? There are easy-to-read signs. “You can usually judge whether you’re well hydrated by your thirst factor and color of your urine,” Cahill-Leach says. “Healthy hydration means the color of your urine is clear with a shade of yellow (barely yellow). Over hydration can cause a shortage of sodium and potassium in your blood stream. Both of these are necessary to avoid dehydration.”
Cahill-Leach suggests hydrating using a combination of fluids headlined by water, complemented by nutrient-rich liquids like coconut water, 100% juice and 1% milk.

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