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Why is it important to have enough water when hiking in summer?
Dehydration is a common cause of heatstroke. Scientists have raised concerns that people often do not drink enough when hiking in hot weather.
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When hiking, people often don't drink enough. Aside from the discomfort, insufficient hydration often leads to heatstroke. It is known that in about a quarter of cases this dangerous violation develops precisely against the background of a lack of water. Scientists point out that tourists are often reckless about this.
A new study that demonstrates the importance of good hydration while hiking in hot weather is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“Current guidelines for backpackers are usually very vague and focus more on general safety issues than adequate water supplies. They don't take into account the level of fitness and the importance of increased exposure to heat,”said Floris Wardenaar, assistant professor at Arizona State University and co-author of the study.
The study involved 12 volunteers aged 20 to 30 years. First, they were asked to climb a small mountain in moderate weather conditions (20 degrees Celsius), and then in hot weather (40 degrees Celsius). Participants were asked to take more water with them than they usually take. The tourists had to go with the maximum speed, which does not cause discomfort.
Before and after the hike, the participants were measured metabolic parameters, weight, heart rate, degree of hydration (saturation of the body with water).
The participants' body weight loss with sweat during the hike was about 1%, regardless of the mild or hot hiking conditions. The fact is that during the heat, people drink more, which maintains their weight at a certain level. In warm weather, people sweat less, but drink less.
“Maintaining a weight loss of 1% is possible and unlikely to result in dramatic changes in physical performance. What worries me is that when people walk longer than 80-90 minutes in hot weather, they usually don't take enough water, which leads to more weight loss,”explained Vandenaar.
Compared to moderate weather conditions, in the heat, the subjective perception of stress from the hike was 19% higher, the internal temperature increased, and the ascent took significantly longer.
In theory, an increase in the duration of the hike due to the heat can multiply the need for tourists in water, scientists say.
“The heat slows us down. This means that the distance that it takes in normal weather 75 minutes may take 95 minutes in hot weather. People need to keep this in mind, especially when their journey exceeds 90 minutes,”added Vandenaar.
Based on the findings, Vandenaar recommends that all hikers check if they drink enough water while hiking. To do this, before the hike, you need to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.01. Then subtract your post-hike weight from your pre-hike weight. If the weight loss is greater than the value obtained by multiplying the weight by 0.01, you are not drinking enough during the hike.