Wellness Pathway #173: Replace Electrolytes

Have you ever heard of hyponatremia? Given that it’s a life-threatening condition, this may be one big word to learn something about. Everyone knows that vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running or biking, will make you sweat. Not everyone knows how much you sweat and what you lose through this essential bodily function. The purpose of sweating is too cool the body. The reason pigs love to get in the mud on a hot day is that they have no sweat glands, so they need an external source of liquid cooling. Humans produce their own moisture on the run.

To replace the liquid lost during exercise, it’s important to drink at least two cups or about half a liter per hour for every pound or half a kilogram lost in body weight. If you wait until you start feeling thirsty, it’s too late. Drinking one cup every thirty minutes is a great rule of thumb. The problem of hyponatremia arises after extended periods of exercise when you lose electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) through sweating and fail to replace them through drinking. Water alone is not enough. Sports drink, gels, and snacks can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I prefer one gel and a cup of water every 30 to 45 minutes during an extended workout or race, especially when it’s hot. Women are more susceptible than men to hyponatremia, probably because of their generally lower body weight. Be sure to pay attention to this the next time you work out.

Reader Reply #1: “This tip failed to give adequate information to allow readers to accurately assess risk. Hyponatremia is a concern only in prolonged (3-4hrs+), sustained exercise in hot climates. Guidelines suggest only water is necessary for exercise of 1hr or less in duration. After that you need carbohydrates. Also, hyponatremia results from consuming too much water, not from consuming too little sodium, during prolonged exercise.”

Reader Reply #2: “I saw that someone had commented on your tip regarding hyponatremia. As you may or may not already know, the USATF just issued new hydration guidelines earlier this month to help stem this problem. If you haven’t seen these new guidelines, Click Here.”

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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