Hydration and why is it so important?

Whether you are a serious athlete or just play sports for fun, it’s always important to stay hydrated before during and after exercise.

Drinking plenty of water helps regulate your body temperature; lubricates your joints and helps transport important nutrients through your body keeping you energized and feeling healthy. If you’re dehydrated your body simply cannot perform as best as it can. What will actually happen is you will also begin to feel tired, get muscle cramps; dizziness and then also some serious symptoms can follow.

A recent study shows that sweat loss equivalent to 2% of your body weight has a noticeable difference in your physical and mental performance. When you get to a sweat loss equivalent to 5% of your body weight your work rate decreases by a massive 30% therefore effecting the way you can train in the gym the way you train on the field and the way you can play your sport. You will also begin to feel nauseous and symptoms that will lead to diarrhoea and vomiting.

There are no exact rules for how much water you should drink; as everyone is different but there are certain factors you can start to think about. These are your sweat rate, the humidity of the environment you’re working out in and how long and hard your going to be working out for. Athletes may then even want to measure how much fluid they have lost through sweat and for every half a kilo of fluid lost try to drink 750ml of water in return.

But what about what’s lost during sweat? The important electrolytes like potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and other metals. For most people all they need is water to stay hydrated. However if you’re exercising at high intensity or longer than an hour or more a sports drink may be helpful to provide you with instant carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes lost during sweating. Choose a sports drink wisely, if you’re an athlete a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade is fine in terms of the sugar content as you will be burning it off during the training session and is going to boost your performance. However if your concerned with the sugar you are consuming you can easily buy just electrolyte tablets instead.  Also check the serving size often they are quite tricky with this and if you’re not careful you will be doubling or even tripling the serving size.

You should see a doctor immediately if you have symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

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