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Easy, Clever Ways to Prevent Dehydration

Easy, Clever Ways to Prevent Dehydration

    According to my local weather forecast, today’s highs will top 95 degrees. For my little corner of New England, that’s brutally hot (and rather early in the year for such high temps, all things considered.) Factoring in the humidity, I can assure you that I will be hot, cross, and concerned about staying hydrated all day today.

    Which brings me to the main point of today’s post: how to stay hydrated during the hottest months of the year.

    Staying properly hydrated ensures that all of your bodily functions are…well…functioning. You can only go three days or so without water, and as your body loses its hydration, you will experience all kinds of awful side effects. Dehydration can cause irritability, lethargy, dangerously low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, headaches, shock, and even death.

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    The average adult can usually maintain proper levels of hydration by drinking enough water. That being said, extreme heat or exertion can be draining on even a healthy adult. Kids and senior citizens are more susceptible to extreme dehydration than the average adult…so if you have kids or older adults in your life that are important to you, the tips outlined below can be especially important for them (and for you!)

    1. Pick the right water.

    As a general rule, I try to avoid hydrating beverages that have added sugar. In addition to having fewer calories, I think it’s also important to choose hydrating beverages that don’t have sugar in order to prevent spikes in insulin levels. Going into a sugar crash compounded with the already-unpleasant sensation of dehydration? Count me out. Plus, if you happen to be sick with diarrhea during a hot summer day, sugary beverages can actually worsen your symptoms.

    I’m a fan of electrolyte-enhanced waters: SmartWater and Metroelectro are my go-to brands, but there are many options out there. I also really dig flavored waters such as Hint Water (which is all-natural and has zero calories) and Ayala’s Herbal Water. The waters from Ayala are USDA Organic, and come in unique flavor combinations like Lemongrass Mint Vanilla, Lavender Mint, and Lemon Verbena Geranium. If you hate the taste of plain water, these all-natural, zero cal waters are a smart choice (and taste so good you’ll actually WANT to drink them.)

    2. Snack on the right foods

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    Fresh veggies and fruits are good snacks this time of year, and not just for dieters. Fresh produce has a very high water content, so it’s a great way to hydrate without having to drink a ton of water. For example, an apple is up to 85% of water by volume.

    Pickles (and pickle juice) are higher in electrolytes than beverages like Gatorade or Powerade, and have been shown to reduce cramping cause by exertion in high temperatures. The acetic acid in pickles and pickle juice are considered superior to the citric acid found in commercial sports drinks, at least when it comes to rehydration properties.

    Another food you should add into your diet when staying properly hydrated is a concern are chia seeds. In addition to being high in protein, the seeds themselves help you to retain water by absorbing many times their own weight in water. If you can’t find the actual seeds, you may be able to find a chia seed gel at runner’s/sporting good stores or health food stores.

    3. Drink constantly, not occasionally.

    You should be constantly drinking fluids, rather than guzzling multiple liters of water all at once.

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    Let me put it this way: when you go to the hospital and get an IV drip, it’s a DRIP… meaning that you get a slow but steady introduction of fluids. You never see anyone getting an IV drip at the speed of a gushing fire hose.

    It is better to have frequent, small amounts of fluid…especially if the dehydration is severe. Too much fluids at once can induce stomach upset or vomiting.

    The amount of water you need in a given day depends on the environment, your activity level, and what other food and drink you have consumed. That being said, work towards drinking 2-3 liters of water per day.

    Break up that amount of water into a cup or so every hour, and you’ll have a good, healthy intake of water. Drinking too much water in a very short period of time can put too much strain on your eliminatory processes, so finding the right balance is important.

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    4. Avoid diuretic behaviors.

    By which I mean, don’t do anything that you know will dehydrate you. In addition to exercise, also watch out for alcohol and caffeine. You might feel groggy when you get to the office… avoid your usual cup of coffee and go for a large glass of water. You might be surprised at how much more effectively the water perks you up.

    5. Make it easy on yourself.

    It’s hard to stay hydrated when you don’t have water nearby. Keep a couple bottles of water in the fridge at work, or in the trunk of your car (you never know when you’ll be stranded somewhere in hot weather.) Pick up a small sports bottle that will fit in your purse or briefcase, and you’ll always have water close at hand. When the water is close to you, you’ll actually remember to drink it. (And don’t be afraid to set an alarm on your watch or phone every 30 minutes to remind you to drink!)

    Closing Thoughts

    The Dos Equis spokesman, “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” has a catchphrase: “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

    Friends of Stepcase Lifehack, we hope that you’ll ignore his advice, and stay hydrated instead.

    How do you stay hydrated in the summer? Tell us in the comments below!

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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