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Exercising Over 50: How To Prevent Dehydration

Exercising Over 50: How To Prevent Dehydration
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BY DARA GRZESH

The warm summer weather allows for loads of fun activities outdoors. Playing with the grandkids in the backyard, taking a trip to the shore, or enjoying a walk on a summer evening to name just a few. However, dehydration can be especially problematic for active seniors during the summer months. So what can you do to prevent it?

Why are older people more susceptible to dehydration?

There are a list of reasons why seniors are more vulnerable, in the summer to being dehydrated. One of the main causes for this susceptibiliy is that as we age our body loses some of the sensitivity to thirst and other symptoms. Older people are less likely to feel parched. This is the earliest sign of dehydration. If you’re elderly and notice yourself feeling thirsty you may already be dehydrated.

Furthermore, biologically speaking as we age our body’s ability to balance fluid levels is reduced. Certain common medications and medical conditions can also affect your body’s fluid regulations. This can be especially pronounced in geriatric patients.

Older people also often find it more difficult for their bodies to adjust to changing temperatures and the rise in body heat from physical activities, especially in the summer heat. Due to the reduced ability to maintain fluid levels and body heat dehydration symptoms can take longer to recede for those over 50.

Dehydration signals 

During and after you exercise or are active in the summer, be extra vigilant of the dehydration signs. While the signals are practically the same for younger individuals as older, symptoms may not be as obvious in seniors.

The warnings for dehydration may appear to be minor but once you notice them cool off inside or in the shade, drink some water and take a break from moving around until the symptoms fully subside.

These are the signs you may be dehydrated for older adults:

  • Significant thirst and dry mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin that stays folded when pinched
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Weakness and feeling sluggish
  • Low blood pressure and weak pulse
  • Irritability, sleepiness, dizziness, or confusion
  • Dark or amber-colored urine

You should get medical attention right away if you or someone you’re with exhibits the symptoms of being very dehydrated.

Preventing dehydration 

Most know the importance of staying hydrated but it can still be difficult to drink enough fluids on a daily basis. This inconsistency can increase the risk of becoming dehydrated. By staying hydrated you can improve the quality of your workout and more importantly prevent serious health issues.

Drink water before, during and after activities. It’s harder to be dehydrated when you already have some liquid inside you. According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s hydration guide, active individuals should drink a minimum of 16-20 oz of liquids 1 to 2 hours before being active outside. While you are exercising and moving around, you should take in 6 to 12 oz of fluids every ten to fifteen minutes. And just because you’re done exercising doesn’t mean you’re not still at risk for dehydration. When you are done working out, be sure to drink around 2- 3 cups of water to replace what you lost in sweat.

Here are some other ways to prevent dehydration in seniors:

  • Drink more water in general
  • Take a bottle of water with you when you go out
  • Don’t wait to hydrate
  • Have an exercise buddy
  • Check your medications
  • Enjoy a sports drink while you exercise
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol prior to exercise

If you find it difficult to drink enough water on a daily basis try jazzing up the water with fruits or mint leaves for a fresh fruity taste. 0 calorie flavor enhancers can make you more likely to drink. You can also install a bottleless water dispenser in your home so you always have cold, filtered water regularly available to drink.

And If you feel yourself weakening while exercising, take a break! Don’t push yourself if you feel dizzy or faint. Stop what you are doing, sit down and drink some water.

You Can Help Prevent Dehydration This Summer

It is very important for those with silver hair to drink more water in the summer months to prevent hydration issues. This should be the case whether you’re working out outside or indoors.

Be mindful of the symptoms and take the steps to stop it before it progresses. Dehydration can be extremely serious for older adults during exercise in the summer, but it can be prevented.

About Dara Grzesh, CPT

Dara Grzesh is a Central New Jersey certified personal trainer in Central New Jersey. Her company, Be Healthy Personal Trainer specializes in fitness training for seniors, post-physical rehabilitation and preexisting conditions. Instead of focusing on weight loss, the fitness trainers emphasize functionality, preventing injuries and maintaining lifelong health and activity.

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