Hot Bodies

Hot Bodies

This piece about hydration and heat is an update of one CBF posted on June 8, 2014.  It includes a video shot on Aug. 15, 2010, when we lived in Colorado. The information is still true and relevant for our pickelballers, trekkers, nudist volleyball player, and others who exercise under the hot summer sun.


Dehydration is an unavoidable result of exercise because body heat rises right along with work rate. Mild dehydration is no big thing because we can get to water in a matter of seconds at home or in the gym.  But it can be a different story if you are outside on a sweltering day, especially more than an hour.

Older adults are at increased risk for dehydration because our kidneys do not regulate fluid retention as well, nor do we feel thirst as early as younger people as body fluid levels drop. Certain medications, like diuretics, can also accelerate dehydration.

The human body cools by routing blood to 3 million sweat glands that are distributed along a fine network of vessels near the surface of the skin. This incredible control system tries to maintain the core body temperature at a normal 98.6 degrees F. Just 8 to 10 degrees above this magic number, you are delirious or dead due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Everybody needs to know their warning signs(Also, read “Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance” by Kenneth Kamler, M.D He was the medical support on several expeditions into hostile environments. You’ll learn fascinating details about  the body’s response to heat as he tells the unlikely survival  story of an ultra-marathoner who got lost during a race in the Sahara Desert.)

Be aware that although dehydration may not result in full-blown heat stroke, even mild dehydration can cause early symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, muscle cramps, and mental confusion. These don’t kill you, but they increase the odds of accidents and falls.

Sweating indicates your body is regulating internal heat stress, which is a good thing. However, there’s a cost. As you dehydrate, your blood plasma decreases, causing the blood to thicken which then causes your heart to beat harder. Your brain also signals your blood vessels to open as wide as possible to help dissipate the heat, which in turn  further taxes your heart to continue to deliver an adequate supply of blood to the muscles in need of oxygen and nutrients to fuel your movement. Lastly, there’s the loss of those important electrolytes.

You cannot replace all the fluids at the same rate that they are lost. It takes time for anything you drink to transit through your gut and into the bloodstream. Even for young people, thirst lags dehydration. For this reason, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 1/2 to 1 cup of water for every 15 minutes during exercise, whether you are thirsty or not.

If you are exerting more than an hour, you can also add an electrolyte like a little sodium or potassium, which is basically what’s in sports drinks like Gatorade. If you are seriously over-heating, drinking fluid alone will not lower your core body temperature.

Research shows that even drinking ice-cold water has little impact, though it tastes good. The only way to lower your core temperature is to lower your metabolic rate, which means you must slow down or stop altogether.

Remember your muscles, including your heart, are 70% water, so drink, drink, drink.

Up & Over

Up & Over

CBFers who understand what we’re up to at CBF learn to love the hurdles – why we run, not walk, go sideways, not just forwards, leap and land on one foot, are forced into quick decisions and adjustments.

Below is a video of last Monday’s classes doing the hurdles. Lots of excellent technique here.

We frequently do the hurdles or other similar drills requiring quick motion because they confer huge physical benefits, as explained in this blog and video from last August.

But there are practical benefits as well:

- You’ll be able to negotiate obstacles – puddles, rocks, toys, icy spots, curbs – in your environment. You are less likely to fall. The fast, high-knee steps you see in today’s video, in which balance must be rapidly re-established after an abrupt movement, becomes what is known as a “stumble step” if you trip forward or are jostled from the side.

- You’re ready to perform and stay safe in recreational sports and activities.

- You’re in control of your movements and can think fast. On Monday somebody commented that two hurdles were too close, forgetting that the objective is to adapt to whatever the circumstances are.

You’re ready to meet challenges in or out of the gym.





Control Freaks

Control Freaks

Motor control is how our brains instruct muscles to enable movement-related skills like balance, agility, coordination, and power.

Below is a video of CBFers running the agility ladder last Monday. By doing this, they are maintaining high level of motor skills for un-young adults. The patterns entail quick balance adjustments, significant lower leg strength, fast cognitive processing, and overall body control.

Motor skills are developed through practice. Everyone can improve theirs. Maintaining good motor control is how you avoid becoming rickety. You are able to move younger in day-to-day activities.

Watch the feet, especially how the quickest bounce on their toes. Arms stay down to lower the center of gravity, posture stays upright, good concentration. Lots to like here.


Stayin’ Alive

Stayin’ Alive

Each month we get a slick magazine from our trade association. It always has a some useful scientific reports on exercise physiology, biomechanics, etc., along with plenty of filler on topics like weight loss, motivation, and fitness technology.

We faithfully read it, even though it is sort of annoying because it’s so full of grinning, young people with bodies-to-die-for, clad in the latest look-at-me workout fashions. Grey hairs, wrinkles, and age spots are few and far between because they have been photo-shopped away.

However, in an article in the most recent issue, Pamela Peeke, MD, the author and host of the Discovery Health TV Series “Could You Survive?” proposed that “classic functional fitness needs a survival twist.”  Beyond feeling good or looking sexy, there’s another serious purpose to exercise the is often over-looked – just plain survival.

A fit person, at any age, has a much higher probability of survival in an accident or natural disaster like floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, and blizzards. Lots of exercises we do at CBF increase our physical and mental abilities to survive, like shown in this video.

This obstacle is excellent strength, mobility, and endurance training. Quickly getting up and down, pushing off the ground, pulling body weight with arms and legs, maintaining spatial awareness on your belly and back, managing physical discomfort – all of them are survival skills.

Some fateful day you may need to jump over a fallen power line, crawl out of the smoke in a burning building, ford a flooding stream, or flee a forest fire.

If you’re fit, you’ve got better odds for stayin’ alive.