Importance of Hydration when exercising
Experts say that people should drink eight glasses of water a day but every person’s body is different, so there is no magical number for the right amount of water to drink to prevent dehydration. What’s true for everyone is that the benefits of drinking water are universal. Drinking enough water regularly helps the body function properly, optimizing physical performance and bodily functions.
But when it comes to life of an athlete, the scenario changes completely! This is because an athlete’s life is quite challenging. It requires a lot of physical, emotional and psychological effort. An athlete has to undergo the serious hardships of constant training, exercise and a high maintenance diet. His performance in the game, more often than not, is always determined by the quality and quantity of his training.
Now this is where hydration comes in. Athletes need to stay hydrated for optimal performance. Studies have found that a loss of two or more percent of one’s body weight due to sweating is linked to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works harder to move blood through the bloodstream. This can also cause muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue.
The best solution to this problem is Rehydration. It is the process of continually replenishing or replacing the amounts of fluids, particularly water, which were lost from your system while you were working out.
How much liquid should I drink?
Do not use thirst as a way of knowing whether you need to drink liquids. Thirst is not always a good sign that your body needs more liquids. The following are suggestions for how much liquid you may need to drink to prevent dehydration:
• Before exercise: Drink about 350-600 ml of liquid, two to three hours before exercise.
• During exercise: Drink 175 to 350 ml of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes.
• After exercise: Drink 470-700 ml of liquid for every pound lost during exercise. Eighty percent of water lost during exercise must be replaced before another exercise event done in the same day.
It is a good idea to weigh yourself before and after exercise, especially during hot weather. This will tell you how much water you have lost in sweat during exercise. You will need to replace this water after exercise.
What should I drink?
Water is the ideal drink but when it comes to athletic performance, Sports drinks can be helpful especially to athletes who are exercising at a high intensity for 60-90 minutes or more. It’s necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise. Here are some different types of Sports Drinks:
Hypo means less. A hypotonic drink is more dilute than your body fluids (i.e. there are fewer particles such as sugars and electrolytes), which means that the drink can be absorbed faster than plain water itself. These drinks are best used for rapid hydration. Most are lacking in electrolytes, and are therefore not optimum for exclusive use during long sessions of exercise. Example: lucozade sport.
Isotonic means that the fluid is at the same concentration (i.e. the same number of particles per volume) as your body fluids. It is therefore absorbed as fast as or faster than water. These drinks work well for longer exercise sessions, replenishing fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. Most commercially available sports drinks are isotonic. Examples being Gatorade, Powerade etc.
Hyper means greater than. Hypertonic drinks (for example: lemonade or fruit juice) are more concentrated than body fluids, and will be absorbed more slowly than plain water. Hypertonic drinks slow down the rate at which the stomach empties and therefore reduce the speed of fluid replacement. These are better post-exercise drinks that offer a higher dose of energy with the fluid.
The main role of hydration in relation to a physical workout is something every athlete must know. You must remember that other than allowing yourself to perform better, water is the one element your body can’t live without. Whether you like it or not, you will have to take it in. Staying well hydrated should be one of your primary aims during tedious workouts and activities. So go on! Drink it up and train hard!« Back to news