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Fun in the Sun Means Proper Preparation

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"One of the training adaptations is that training in the heat stimulates storage of more fluid, so your fluid volume increases so you have more available," Martin tells WebMD. But that kind of training needs to progress gradually. Martin says it usually takes about a month for an exerciser to "acclimatize" to the heat.

Most sports drinks do work, according to Martin, as long as they aren't too high in carbohydrates, "because this can actually lessen fluid absorption." He says exercisers should stay away from beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine because they can be dehydrating.

So if preventing and rectifying heat exhaustion is as simple as drinking enough fluids, why do overheated people keep showing up in emergency rooms?

Maintaining healthy hydration (and the all-important healthy diet) doesn't always go according to plan, Martin says. "It sounds so simple; it's amazing that it's so difficult to do."

Vital Information:

  • Heat exhaustion begins with thirst and progresses to muscle cramping and an altered mental state; then the body stops sweating, temperature goes up, and tissue starts breaking down.
  • The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to drink water; once thirst sets in, you are already dehydrated.
  • In healthy people, heat exhaustion may not be a serious problem, but it can be dangerous for the young and the elderly.
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