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  1. Generally, the average person is not 100 percent hydrated. Add exercise and a warm climate, and it spells dehydration in a big way. Do not depend on thirst as a signal to avoid dehydration! Your body's drive to drink is not nearly as powerful as its drive to eat, and the thirst mechanism is even less powerful during exercise. Therefore, you must plan to drink early and often. How Much Should You Drink? Before exercise: Drink one to two cups (eight to 16 ounces) of fluid two hours before exercise to make sure you are well hydrated. Then drink another one-half to one cup immediately before exercise. During exercise: Drink one-half to one cup every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. Although this might seem tough at first, once you schedule it into your regular training routine, you will quickly adapt to having fluid in your stomach. In fact, the fuller your stomach is, the faster it will empty. After exercise: Replace any fluid you have lost. Drink two cups of fluid for every pound of body weight you lose during exercise. In hot, humid weather, you need to drink more than usual. (But do not forget that dehydration also occurs during cold weather exercise--your body temperature rises, and you still lose water through perspiration and respiration.) What Should You Drink? Should you just reach for the water bottle when you need to hydrate, or are sports drinks better? The answer to this question depends on how much and how hard you exercise--and how much you like water! If you exercise less than one hour, water should be fine. If you exercise longer than one hour, the fluid should also supply energy to your working muscles. In this case, drink about two to four cups per hour of fluids with carbohydrate concentrations of from 4 to 8 percent. (Most sports drinks fall in this range.) The ideal fluid replacement beverage should encourage fluid consumption and promote fluid absorption. What About the Sodium in Most Sports Drinks? The average exerciser does not need to replace sodium or other electrolytes during exercise. Even well trained marathoners will reserve enough sodium to complete a competition. After heavy exercise, however, it is best to eat a meal that contains some sodium to replace what you may have lost. Follow your cravings--do not worry about restricting the sodium in your food immediately after running a marathon. If you are participating in an ultra-endurance event that lasts four hours or more, you should consume a sports drink that contains sodium. Fifty to 120 milligrams consumed during exercise should be sufficient. (Sodium content in sports drinks can range from eight to 116 milligrams. Read the label.) If you are just an average exerciser, you might think sodium in drinks is just a waste. However, sodium may play a different role for you. Sodium helps your body absorb fluid, and along with sugar, sodium may enhance a drink's taste, which can encourage you to drink more. Therefore, if you are an avid water drinker, you will benefit little from using a sports drink unless you are exercising for at least one hour. However, if you do not like water, sports drinks that taste good and contain less than 8 percent carbohydrate and some sodium might offer you a performance advantage. At the very least, if they encourage you to drink more, they will have done their job. Signs of Dehydration It is essential that you are aware of the warning signs of dehydration and heat stress. Early signs include: fatigue lightheadedness appetite loss dark urine with a strong odor flushed skin heat intolerance Severe signs include: difficulty swallowing sunken eyes and dim vision stumbling painful urination clumsiness numb skin shrivelled skin delirium muscle spasms Be sure to drink plenty of fluids especially if you exhibit any of these warning signs. Article prescribed by: IDEA Health and Fitness Association
  2. I know what you are thinking – the holidays are a time for fun and indulgence. You don’t want to think about fitness during that time. You want to enjoy yourself. Don’t worry! The festivities don’t have to be eliminated or avoided. You can have a fabulous time while also maintaining your weight and your fitness regimen. The secret to achieving a holiday season that is both full of fun and also includes fitness is found in moderation. There are two typical approaches to the seasonal festivities: 1) throw all healthy habits out the window and indulge in every guilty pleasure 2) starve and binge approach (for example, you eat nothing all day long to allow yourself to overindulge in party food). Of course, neither approach is successful at maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle throughout the holiday season. As mentioned above, the key is found in moderation. With a moderate approach both to what you eat (or don’t eat) and how much exercise you do (or don’t do), you can avoid packing on extra weight AND also partake in all the fun of the season. So this season, get a head start on the New Year instead of starting January with extra pounds to lose. How to avoid gaining weight, while still enjoying the holidays. Create a plan ahead of time. Before the holidays sneak up on you, create a plan for incorporating fitness and good nutrition into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday schedule and then determine how much time you will realistically have available to devote to working out and/or eating healthy meals. Don’t put your fitness goals on hold until New Years. If you can’t exercise as often during this time period as you normally do, adjust appropriately. Don’t use the excuse that since you don’t have time for your full workout you just won’t workout at all. Instead accept your limited availability and simply reduce the frequency and/or duration of your exercise. It’s much better to cut your fitness time in half than to completely eliminate it. On the day of a party, be sure to eat regularly all day long. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch and a snack before hand (just as you would on any other day). Once you are at the party, go ahead and indulge in some of the fun, delicious foods. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you probably will find that you aren’t tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you starve all day long attempting to save up all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat. Schedule your workouts. Mark them on the calendar and set-aside time to complete them. Consider them as important as any other appointment or event you have marked on your calendar. When at a party, start by eating some of the healthy offerings. For example, vegetable sticks (without dip), fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy (but yummy) offerings. You will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled-up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied. Force yourself to do a simple 10 minute exercise. On days that you really lack motivation or simply do not have time for your complete exercise routine, commit to do just 10 minutes of exercise. You’ll probably end up doing more than that once you get started. Even if you only end up completing 10 minutes, that is still a lot better than zero minutes. Choose smaller portions. When presented with a large variety of food options, it’s tempting to want to eat everything. Rather than eating one large slice of chocolate cake or a huge plate of meatballs, select a sampling of bite size pieces of several of the desert or appetizer offerings. This way you get the enjoyment of trying many different foods without overeating. Exercise at home. You’ll be more inclined to follow-through on your exercise commitment if you don’t have to drive somewhere to do your workout. Plus, you won’t waste any time on driving, parking, the locker room or waiting to use equipment. Working out at home requires very little equipment (even can be equipment-free) and is quite inexpensive. Avoid wasting calories on alcoholic beverages. The average alcoholic drink contains 150-200 calories per glass. Indulge in just 2-3 drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, instead of having a full glass of wine, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water or with a diet cola. This will help cut your calories in half. Pack a snack. When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home. Have a healthy holiday season! Hopefully these tips will help you find a balance between staying fit and also enjoying the fun of the season. Remember, moderation is the key. Article written by: Lynn Bode
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