Hydration on the Heat

The summertime heat has been upon many of us for months now, and with temperatures rising we need to take extra precautions when we are working outside. For a lot of hunters and outdoorsmen, this is a crucial time of year for hanging treestands, planting food plots and working on hunting properties. Laboring in the hot summer sun is necessary, but can also be dangerous.

Every year, many people suffer from heat stroke and dehydration while working outside. One way to avoid this is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you are just enjoying time outdoors and relaxing, moderate hydration is important. But if you are working physically, lifting or moving heavy materials, or exercising with an increased heart rate, you need to closely monitor your hydration.

Our bodies consist primarily of water, so staying hydrated is crucial for proper function in every way. For example, if you are hanging treestands, you are using your muscles to climb, hold on, lift heavy objects and stay focused. Your body is burning calories and sweating, so you need to replenish energy and electrolytes throughout the day. If you go too long without proper hydration or caloric intake, you run the risk of blood sugar levels dropping and your body dehydrating, both of which can cause you to lose focus. When you’re hanging onto a tree limb 20 feet off the ground, losing focus is no laughing matter. Always wear a safety harness when hanging stands. It could be the difference between life and death.

If running or doing other forms of exercise outside in hot temperatures is your thing, focus on hydrating properly before, during, and after. Heat stroke can be fatal, yet it’s easy to take precautions to avoid it. As your body temperature and heart rate rise, your body fights to keep its temperature down. As you sweat and breathe hard, pay attention to whether you begin to feel cramping, dizziness or off-balance. If you do, your body needs more fluids. Don’t wait until it’s too late to consume water. If you feel like water alone isn’t doing the trick, there are supplements that you can add to it to help your body recover even faster. Products that have electrolytes built in, along with some other healthy ingredients, are good to help replenish what your body needs without any unnecessary sugars or additives. I use Wilderness Athlete’s Hydrate & Recover. By adding it to my water during strenuous activities, I’m helping my body recover more quickly.

And don’t forget that if you’re taking your dog along on the run or walk, pack enough water for your furry friend, too. Sometimes, if I know we’ll be near a creek or river, I don’t pack as much water for my dog, but in case of emergency, you should always have enough to prevent dehydration.

Many of my days are spent outdoors working and filming during hot summer months, so I’ve compiled a list of items that have helped me beat the heat and stay safe during those long, hot days. If you have summer plans that could leave you dehydrated or overheated, take a look at these items to see if any of them can help you:

  • Camelback backpack – There are a lot of backpack brands that offer bladders to hold water in them. My Sitka backpack has one, and I use it when I know that carrying bottles of water won’t be efficient enough. You can also purchase bladders separately and install them in almost any pack.
  • Hydrate and recover – Wilderness Athlete makes a product you can add to water that will help you to either rehydrate or stay hydrated. I use it throughout the day, especially when I’m outside or doing strenuous activity. It has electrolytes built in, and will make you feel instantly better if you begin to dehydrate.
  • Cool towel – There are many brands of towels at sporting good stores that will retain water and keep you cool. Simply pour water on the towel, or submerge it in water, and wrap it around your neck to help keep your body temperature down. We use these often while we are fishing in the heat of the summer.

I’m sure it sounds like a simple thing that every person should already know, but staying hydrated in the heat is a crucial part of staying healthy. An ounce of prevention in this situation can prevent serious injury or death, so plan ahead and drink enough fluids.

  Send Julie your outdoors-specific exercise and nutrition questions, at any of our social media pages. Like us at facebook.com/MidWestOutdoorsTV, facebook.com/JulieMcQueen.brotherhood, and follow our Instagram feeds @mwoutdoor and @julesmcqueen. “Fitness for the Field” is peer-reviewed by trainers and nutritionists at UpLift Guided Fitness in Woodbury, Minn. Eat healthy for the rest of your outdoor-loving life at upliftfitness.com/21dayoffer.