Yeah! The sun is shining, the trees are in bloom and the air is warm. Time to intensify your outdoor workout.

Whether you are into tennis, ultimate Frisbee or soccer, or simply going for a long walk, bike ride or run, keep in mind that you’re losing nutrients through sweat.

Even four per cent dehydration decreases your performance, according to Dr. Michael Clarfield, director of The Sports Medicine Specialists Clinic in Toronto.

And there’s a more immediate reason to keep hydrated: “There is a direct correlation between muscle cramps and dehydration,” says Dr. Clarfield. Muscle cramps are caused by depleted levels of minerals in muscle tissue.

The remedy? If you are working out intensely, you need to continuously replenish with drinks that are enriched with electrolytes, such as sports drinks. This will replace electrolytes lost through sweat.

Here are some other hydration tips from Dr. Clarfield, who is also the company physician for the National Ballet of Canada and team doctor for the Canadian National Tennis Team.

• Don’t drink too much water. Plain water dilutes electrolytes and can create a state of hyper-hydration. Drink liquid containing electrolytes as well as water.

• Don’t work out if you have flu-like symptoms throughout your body. Your immune system is compromised and exercising can further wear it down. Exercising with just a head cold is probably fine.

• Remember to warm up before exercising and to stretch after exercising to help prevent injury. A good way to warm up consists of three to five minutes of an activity that gradually increases your heart rate. When stretching, remember to engage in gradual, steady movements for 15 to 20 seconds.

• Listen to your body. If you are having trouble breathing or feel pain, immediately stop the activity you are doing.

Latest From ...