Getting Your Family into Fitness and Fluids

July 13, 2010 | In: interesting articles

Getting your family into fitness is easier than you may think. You don’t have to join an expensive health club or buy a lot of fancy exercise equipment.Specialists recommends that you accumulate a total of 30 minutes or more of moderate activity on most days of the week. This means that sweaty workouts aren’t essential for a healthy lifestyle. Even three 10-minute walks around the block can help you get fit.

It is definitely time to take advantage of all the fun fitness activities available wherever you live – in your house and yard; at the park and the mall; out on the river and beach; and up at the lakes and mountains. Getting fit can be as simple as a regular 30-minute noontime walk with friends; an after-school walk to the park with the dog; walking around the field while your kids play ball; or just taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

And, to go hand-in-hand with increased physical activity, you definitely need to think about your family’s fluid intake. Water is sometimes called “the forgotten nutrient” because so many people do not get enough to drink. Staying well hydrated is important for everyone – and the more active you are, the more fluids you need.

Unfortunately thirst is not a particularly good indicator of when you need to drink more. When you feel thirsty, you are probably already a bit low on fluids. The thirst mechanism is even less accurate in children and older people. They can become seriously dehydrated quite quickly, especially when the weather is hot or dry.

The best defense against dehydration is a good offensive. Here are five ways to make sure that your family gets the fluids they need in any climate. With these tips, you can stay hydrated and perform better during all your spring fitness activities.

#1: Be proactive. Plan ahead and keep plenty of beverages on hand:

* Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with your family’s favorite fluids. In addition to water, stock up on low-fat milk, 100% juices, and sports drinks.
* Always carry fluids when you leave the house. Never leave home without a water bottle, sports bottle or thermos filled with cold, refreshing beverages.
* Get kids into the water habit. Encourage them to drink whenever they pass a water fountain – whether they feel thirsty or not. Offer cold water with after-school snacks.

#2: Be realistic. Make small changes in your usual beverages. Despite the ads, pop is not the best beverage for active people. To gradually switch to more refreshing choices:

* Serve fat-free or reduced-fat milk with all your meals.
* Buy only a limited amount of pop and sweetened juice drinks.
* Make cold water and 100% juice readily available.

#3: Be adventurous. If you’re tired of the same-old beverages, try some refreshingly different ways to quench your thirst – without lots of empty calories or caffeine:

* Explore iced herbal teas like mixed berry or mandarin orange spice.
* Mix club soda with cranberry or another of your favorite juices.
* Add a wedge of fresh lime or lemon to water and juices.

#4: Be flexible. Balance what you drink with your activity level. Since thirst isn’t always a good indicator of fluid status, remember to:

* Drink several glasses of water before any planned activity.
* Drink often during physical activity – at least every 15 to 20 minutes.
* Drink at least 16 ounces of fluids after being active.

#5: Be sensible. Enjoy a variety of beverages – just don’t overdo it. A moderate intake of caffeine is probably OK for most healthy adults. To keep your intake sensible:

* Go caffeine-free when you do drink pop.
* Switch to decaf coffee or tea after a cup or two in the morning.
* Try herbal tea or hot tea with a lemon wedge.

Bottom line: Get up off the couch – and enjoy some springtime fitness with your family. And, be sure to bring along plenty of refreshing beverages!

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