Physical activity and nutrition on the beachesAntonio Silva
With the arrival of summer our beaches are flooded with holidaymakers looking for the much desired tan, the refreshing dip in the cool waters of the sea and, of course, a large number of people who, in addition to enjoying the time for rest, are also dedicated to the practice of different types of physical activity.
However, if there are many recommendations on how to take care of sun exposure, the same does not happen with special attention to physical activity, nutrition and hydration during the beach stay. We should know, first of all, that both the practice of physical activity and the digestive process that follows the ingestion of food, require large amounts of blood.
That is, when we finish eating, an important amount of blood is circulating in our intestines to ensure the digestion of food. Likewise, the circulation will be greater, the greater the physical activity, since the body’s response is similar. The more activity, the more blood will go through the muscles that are being used.
Some basic and fundamental issues can thus be deduced. The practice of exercise should not be combined with important intake of food. If this happens, two territories of the body will be requesting blood in large quantities:
1– The intestines trying to process the food ingested;
2– The muscles demand abundant blood so that it gives them the oxygen indispensable for the physical practice.
The result will then be predictable. Neither of the two areas mentioned will have enough circulation to be able to fulfil the desired objective.
And if we are exposed to the sun, our body will still need a lot of blood to circulate to lower the body temperature, inducing it to satisfy a third need.
It is easy to imagine what can happen if we are swimming and the blood that our muscles need is lacking. In these cases, the risk of fatigue is very high and it is normal for the muscular problem to be associated with digestive disorders and, at other times, other cardio-circulatory problems.
These situations, it is good to remember, can occur at any time of the day if we do not control the variables mentioned, i.e. nutrition, physical activity, sufficient hydration and the heat.
As a guideline, we would say that whenever physical activity is performed before or after a main course, the foods we choose should be of fast digestion and low in saturated fats (fats from the ‘land’ animal kingdom such as red meats, cheeses, cold meats, sausages, etc.), also avoid fried food. The greater the amount of food eaten and the more abundant it is in fats, the harder and slower the digestion will be.
The choice of salads, rice, potatoes, pasta and ‘blue’ fish from cold waters (rich in omega-type unsaturated fats and fast digestion), such as tuna, are a healthy meal in these circumstances because their digestion is relatively easy and fast.
An adequate strategy to comply with before and immediately after physical exercise is to consume a piece of fruit or cereals, for example, and in all cases drink plenty of water or a sports drink, as it not only hydrates and supplies minerals but enhances control of dehydration.
These simple steps will help to take special care of your health and ensure a real moment of pleasure during your well-deserved summer holiday.