Everyone sweats. It’s our body’s way of cooling off- our pores release fluid, and when that fluid evaporates, it cools us off. (Don’t be embarrassed because you sweat, your body is just doing its thing to keep you alive, and some people sweat more than others, and that’s ok too!) Whether you sweat because of exercise, heat, or nerves, it’s important to replace the fluids that you sweat out. This becomes particularly important in the summer, and especially so if you exercise outside.
Sweat, while great for our survival, can pull critical substances out of our bodies, like sodium and magnesium, as well as electrolytes. Key proteins used for brain function also begin to break down when we sweat a lot, and without replacing the lost fluids, you can experience heat exhaustion, muscle cramps and spasms, headache, and nausea. In extreme cases, because these substances are so important to brain function, you are also at risk of heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Electrolyte loss is probably the most well known side effect of sweating due to the heavy marketing by sports drink brands’ emphasis on replacing lost electrolytes. So you might be under the impression that in order to effectively replace lost minerals and electrolytes you need to drink something like Gatorade. However, if you stay on top of hydration instead of replenishing fluids after you start experiencing symptoms of dehydration, just plain old water will do! If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, go ahead and grab a bottle of an electrolyte solution (and please keep an eye on how you are feeling, very extreme cases may require a hospital visit, so don’t ignore your body’s signals!), but for the most part, just sipping on a refreshing glass of water will do the trick!
One more thing- you start feeling thirsty when you are already mildly dehydrated, so make sure to be mindful of how much fluid you are losing, because we need to increase our water intake in the hot months and with higher levels of activity! Cheers (with my bottle of water, of course) to a healthy, happy summer!