Thursday, May 24, 2018

Heat, humidity and hydration

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 5/24/2018
by Ken Gooderham

Today’s letter is H... as is heat and humidity, two conditions anyone who exercises (or just goes outside) in Southwest Florida this time of year understands intimately.

With the (apparent) advent of the rainy season, humidity is high… and the temperatures are sure to follow. And if you walk, run or bike, unless you plan to hit the gym this summer be prepared to hit a wall of hot and sticky as you walk out the door.

That brings us to another H – hydration.

Higher temps make it harder for your body to stay cool during outside activity. In response, you can expect to sweat more, since evaporation of that sweat is the chief way to lower body temperatures. If you don’t replace that sweat – both the water and the minerals – you run the risk of dehydration.

What are the symptoms?

    • Dizziness, confusion or lightheadedness.
    • Dry lips, mouth and skin.
    • Physical and mental fatigue.
    • Decreased pace and performance (if exercising).
    • Darkened urine… your best and often first indicator of dehydration.
    • Higher body temperature and heart rate.

So if you’re active and outside, and you notice any of these… reach for a water bottle immediately. If you feel all of these indicators, stop what you’re doing, start drinking and get to a cooler place immediately – because the next step is something you want to avoid… think hospitals, organ issues and risk to life.

What’s the best way to avoid dehydration? Stay hydrated! Drink throughout the day, but especially when you’re outside in the heat. If you frequently or vigorously exercise outside, it could be worth the time to calculate your sweat rate. That would allow you to fine-tune your hydration regime before, during and after for both the amount and the type of fluid.

Speaking of which, for most of us water is a good first choice for hydration. If you exercise, consider adding in a sports drink to replace electrolyte (and carbs if you’re going more than an hour).

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing in hydration. It’s called hyponatremia, when drinking too much water in a short time drops your blood’s sodium level too low – which can also have serious consequences.

That’s why the sweet spot for hydration during outdoor activity tends to be 24-30 oz. an hour – an average sports water bottle is right around 24 oz. – which keeps you hydrated without overwhelming your kidneys. As for how much to drink in a day, a Google search will give you a variety of guidelines you can use to figure out your personal needs.

Before we finish, let’s look at another H word – helmet. If you wear one while riding your bike, now’s a good time to check two things:

    • Age: Sun sweat and time take their toll on bike helmets, with most recommending it be replaced within five years (sooner if you ride a lot in this kind of climate). If you can’t remember when you bought it, that could be a sign it’s time to replace it – and if you’ve had a crash that impacted your helmet, definitely replace it since they are engineered for one impact only.

    • Fit: The concern here is not comfort (although that is a factor), but security… meaning will it stay on right to protect your head in an accident. Is the chin strap tight? Is it balanced front to back? Is it snug without being constricting? If in doubt, ask your bike guru to check your fit when you buy a new helmet, or check out the how-to guidelines online.

Of course, if you don’t ride with a helmet, you don’t need to worry about this. Instead you can worry about the danger of riding without a helmet, which can include serious or even fatal head injuries.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Memorial Day weekend always means a run or two… with the Sandoval 5K run walk in Cape Coral and the SNIP 5K in Naples on Monday, May 28. The next weekend offers the inaugural Elks Lodge 5K in Cape Coral. Details at or
Ride? You can always count on Critical Mass, with the Cape ride tomorrow (May 25) night, the downtown Fort Myers slow roll Saturday morning and the original downtown Fort Myers night ride on June 1. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details at

Both? Upcoming events include:
    • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (
    • Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Englewood (
    • Registration is open for the Galloway Captiva Tri on May 1; the race weekend is Sept. 15-16, with the kids’ events Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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