The Health Guru

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Correct hydration in hot temperatures – ie. Singapore

Posted on | May 21, 2012 | No Comments

Hydrate adequately in extreme heat!

Last weekend was the HOTTEST weekend in Singapore that I can remember having in a loooooong time.  And, as chances would have it, it was the weekend that I completed four paddling training sessions in the boiling hot sun. It is truly no exaggeration when I tell you this – one of my dragon boating teammates received burns on the palms of his hands from doing push-ups on the concrete during our warm-up at 3pm in the afternoon and after we’d finished, standing on the beach at 5.45pm (nearly night-time) the sun was burning hot equivalent to midday heat, you had to stand in the shade. Saturday was a scorcher.

Which lead me to think about correct hydration during exercise in extreme temperatures in Singapore.  And further to that intense, long duration exercise in extreme heat.

This is not to be taken lightly – if you don’t hydrate (drink water) properly – you can die. Our body is 70-80% water, so if the levels deplete, so do you.  The longer and more intense the exercise, the more hydration you need.

There is NO EXACT one-size-fits-all guideline for how to hydrate properly because everyone exercises at different intensities, has different body composition, sweats more, drinks more / less etc.  As an athlete it’s important to not drink only when you feel thirsty – if you do this – you are already de-hydrated. Your body craves water to survive.  You need to drink at regular intervals.

The side effects of dehydration is that blood volume drops (remember we are 70-80% water) which makes your heart work HARDER to deliver that vital blood throughout your body, especially to your working muscles.  If you are de-hydrated and blood volume has dropped you can experience muscle cramps, fatigue, disorientation, dizziness, headaches and nausea.  Dehydration can lead to Heat stroke and Heat exhaustion, which could ultimately lead to death.


  • Drink at regular intervals.
  • Drink water BEFORE sessions and then also AFTER. Don’t immediately head for the beer!
  • Not just drink when you feel thirsty
  • Dry, hot and humid conditions require more attention to hydration needs.

Hydration Guides:

How Yellow is your Pee?  Dark yellow = dehydrated; Light yellow = adequately hydrated.

How much volume have you peed out? Small amounts that are dark yellow = dehydrated.  Large amounts that are light yellow = adequately hydrated.

Weigh yourself:  Take your pre-exercise weight and post-exercise weight.  Drink to replenish the weight you have lost. If you are heavier after your session, you are hydrating well. If you have lost weight – you haven’t consumed enough and must drink more.  The basic guidelines are: For every 1kg that you lose in body weight, you need to replenish with 1.2 litres of fluid (Equivalent to 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost)

SPORTS DRINKS:  Sports drinks should only be used (and are actually only helpful) for athletes who exercise at high intensity for more than 60 minutes.  (AUSTCHAM PADDLE CLUB = this is you on Saturday and Sunday).  Drinking a can of 100PLUS which is a light sports drink would be very beneficial at the 1 hour mark in a session (not a gatorade, please don’t get confused).  Therefore, if you go out for a light 30 minute jog, water is actually more beneficial for you than anything else.

For ultra-marathon runners, and triathletes doing between 3 – 5 hours of exercise continuously, a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade would be better for you as it contains more complex electrolytes and contains more carbohydrates to fuel for your body.

The ultimate take home message is DRINK. Most importantly, drink water BEFORE your training session.  And then hydrate adequately during AND after your session.  Please stop and hydrate if feel light-headed, dizzy or cramping.

Hope this helps!

Also, it may help if you don’t exercise with a hangover because you’re already dehydrated !

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