Staying hydrated

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

Summer is officially here, and I sure felt it during my long run today. That made me think about dehydration, which is something that never has been taught to me. Or at least not enough. Sure, since we were kids our parents told us “drink water” if it was warm outside. But that’s about it. In the military, where we were training for hours and hours, the only “rule” was that we should remember to take a sip of water every 15 minutes.

And sure, drinking enough water is the main thing you should focus on — but there are times when you should make sure that you replace electrolytes as well.

What are electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. The most common electrolytes are sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They are in your blood, urine, tissues, and other body fluids. Electrolytes are important because they help balance the amount of water in the body, balance the body’s acid/base (pH) level, move nutrients into the cells, move wastes out of the cells, and make sure that the nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should.

When you sweat, you lose electrolytes. That’s why you need to fill them back up. This becomes more important when you’re doing long exercises, like a marathon. But even when it gets super warm outside, it might be needed. And elderly people should be even more aware of this, as they are at especially high risk of deficiency.

Some common symptoms of electrolyte imbalances are muscle cramps, headache, increased thirst, and poor endurance.

So what should you do in order to replace electrolytes? The most obvious, and common option is sports drinks (like Gatorade). They are a great option during a long workout. But please note that these usually have a lot of added sugar. There are also healthier options, like tabs you add to your water. And the easiest one, adding more salt to your meals.

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Andreas Westerlund

Andreas Westerlund

Endurance athlete, digital nomad, nerd. Just a normal guy trying to figure out fitness, business, and life. https://www.andreaswesterlund.com