Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Exercising in the humidity, electrolytes and potassium

Are you dying or out of breath when you're going for that run or taking bootcamp? How about just walking outside? The weather has been extremely brutal this month with the humidity making it feel like it's almost 100 degrees! It becomes almost unbearable running around in this heat all day...but you get used to it.

If you are not used to this weather, you need to acclimate yourself to it. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is essential but your body needs electrolytes especially if you're sweating most of the day.

Electrolytes are chemical substances which, when dissolved or lost in sweat, are missing the electrically charged particles or ions. Nutritionally, they serve as aids to rehydration and many bodily functions are dependent on these substances. If you consume large amounts of pure water during periods of physical exertion, the water can dissolve salts in your cells, impeding the normal function of the cells. In extreme cases, it can even lead to fatal water poisoning. But a drink containing electolytes allows your body to use the water to rehydrate without suffering those ill effects.

Normal body functions, not to mention performance, are severely compromised if adequate levels of electrolytes are not present, especially in the heat and/or when exercise goes beyond the two-hour mark.

With that said, one of my favorite electrolyte drink is Coconot Water. I prefer Zico or One which you can easily find in your gourmet grocery, whole foods and delis.

Coconut water naturally has about 650 mg of potassium (15x more than a banana), 25mg of magnesium, and 35 mg of sodium! All of this in a 10 oz, 60 calorie package. It's like nature's gatorade!

Coconut water is high in electrolytes and potassium making it a great workout recovery drink. It hydrates the body, replacing fluids and minerals that are lost while sweating. The essential electrolytes it contains are potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosporous. It is nearly fat free, low in carbs, and low in sugar. (The sugar being all natural). If you drink it regularly you will notice a difference in your skin. It smoothes and hydrates your skin leaving it noticeably softer.

Exercising rigorously and sweating causes a mineral imbalance and depletion in potassium levels. You MUST replenish what your body has lost in order to stay healthy! If you can't get your hands on coconut water, you can opt for Gatorade which has more sugar. It does the job but there are definitely more calories. Upon many ocassions, I've turned to Gatorade to save me during long endurance activities.
Whether Gatorade or Coconut Water is better, it's up to you. See which one works more effectively. I like to use both.

As for Potassium rich foods, here's a list of foods loaded with it:
Bell pepper
Crimini mushrooms
Brussels sprouts

Aside from replenishing your body's nutrients, you need to acclimate yourself to the high humidity. Just like exercise, anything you haven't done in a while you need to go at your own pace. Take it one step at a time! Get yourself used to the weather and don't overdo it, wear sunscreen, avoid exercising during the peak times of the day and stay by the shady areas. Wear comfortable clothes. Mesh-like fabrics and cottons are preferable since they allow the skin to dry faster. Always warmup and cool down, no excuses!

Of course, if you're coming to my bootcamp, You know you are not allowed to faint! Hydrate and keep up your fitness level! Most importantly...DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE!!!

Cindy Lai Fitness

1 comment:

  1. Really helpful, Cindy! Thanks! I wonder how I will do in humidity after a week off on the beach. I'm having my whites and coco water as I type....