Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to tone muscles and burn fat. As with all forms of exercise, though, care must be taken to avoid injury. A training problem that many experience, especially when working out in hot environments, is dehydration. If you are experiencing chills during a cardio workout, you should stop immediately, as this is a common sign of dehydration. Left untreated, this condition can be very dangerous, so it is important that you understand the symptoms of dehydration and how to treat it.
Dehydration occurs when the body experiences fluid loss and those fluids are not replaced at an adequate rate. Dehydration is a common problem for athletes who train in hot environments because of excessive sweating caused by high temperatures. However, it can also strike someone doing cardio in an air-conditioned gym. Other causes of dehydration include diarrhea, fever and increased urination.
Besides chills, other signs of dehydration include thirst, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pale skin, fainting and rapid heartbeat. Severe dehydration can lead to a number of medical emergencies including delirium and unconsciousness. Left untreated, dehydration can lead to heat illness which can be life-threatening.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the only adequate treatment for dehydration is replacing lost fluids and electrolytes. To rehydrate after cardio exercise, drink plenty of cool water. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes may help, but salt tablets are a bad idea and can worsen the condition. In severe cases, fluids and sodium may need to be replaced intravenously, because the body is able to receive nutrients more quickly this way than through oral intake.
Always drink plenty of water before and during exercise. If you are performing exercise in hot environments or at an altitude above 8,200 feet, you are at an increased risk for dehydration and should drink plenty of fluids. If you begin to experience symptoms of dehydration, stop the exercise and get to a shady area if you are outdoors. Recline and take in water or a sports drink.
- Exertional Heat Illnesses; Lawrence E. Armstrong
- Physiological Aspects of Sport Training and Performance; Jay Hoffman
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.