Whether you’re young or elderly, nothing should stop you from doing and enjoying your favorite sport. But of course, you still have to prioritize your health and safety. One way to achieve this goal is by maintaining proper hydration.
If the body is not hydrated, you’ll likely experience headaches, dizziness, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Good hydration involves taking in fluids, most especially water before and after a workout, and even while exercising.
In this post, you’ll learn the important benefits of staying hydrated regardless of the sport you do.
It’s important to stay hydrated when hiking, biking, running, weight lifting, or playing contact sports to avoid dehydration. Water and moisture are lost among athletes because of excessive sweating, which causes increased thirst, dry skin, dry mouth, decreased urine output, and dizziness, which can impede focus and performance.
If your urine color is colorless or light yellow, this means you’re properly hydrated. However, if your urine is amber-colored or dark yellow, it can be an indicative sign of dehydration. Because of the lack of fluids, there is less urine produced, and the urine becomes more concentrated due to decreased water in the blood.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a non-profit fitness education, training, and certification provider, one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s nutrition program is proper hydration. It is the key to ensure that the body parts and internal organs perform their essential functions to attain maximum performance.
Here’s the recommendation of ACE about fluid intake while training:
Two to three hours prior to training, make sure to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water. Twenty to 30 minutes after training, drink another 8 ounces of water. This is regardless of the sport you do.
During exercise, drink 7 to 10 ounces of water at least every 10 minutes and up to 20-minute intervals.
After exercise, drink about 8 ounces of water.
Keep in mind that you have to replenish your body fluids by drinking 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of bodyweight you have lost during exercise. Aside from water, it’s generally okay to drink a sports drink to also replenish lost nutrients during exercise. However, avoid those with high sugar and sodium content. Take note of the serving size because you might find several servings in one bottle. Also, some sports drinks have caffeine, which is a diuretic, causing increased urination.
Improve Overall Performance
Remember that dehydration ranges from mild to severe. Weakness, mental confusion, and loss of consciousness are the signs and symptoms of severe dehydration that would prompt emergency medical attention.
That’s why it’s essential to follow a hydration protocol that must be consistently carried out to ensure optimal performance. You don’t want to find yourself in a hospital bed because you lost consciousness during training or, worse, in a tournament.
Avoid Heat Illness
Heat illness refers to a spectrum of medical disorders brought about by increased exposure to heat. Minor conditions include heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat syncope. As a mild condition, heat cramps may become apparent through painful muscle spasms experienced in the legs, arms, back, or stomach. On the other hand, heat exhaustion presents weakness, headache, nausea, low blood pressure, and fast heartbeat.
For a more severe condition, heat stroke may occur, which can be manifested by high fever (more than 104°F), fast breathing, flushed skin, fast heartbeat, and delirium or seizures. If you’re not sweating anymore, then it is a red flag. It means that you’re already dehydrated and bound to develop heat exhaustion. That’s why it’s important to treat heat stroke right away because it can lead to mortality.
Here are some tips to avoid heat illness:
Know the Amount of Lost Fluids
Before and after training, weigh yourself to know your baseline data and the amount of fluids you have lost during exercise. You will need to replenish every pound of perspiration you lose, which is equivalent to a pint of fluid.
After exercise, eat a nutritious snack, such as bananas, orange slices, or unsalted nuts. Avoid soda, sugary drinks, or fruit juices because they are hard for the stomach if a person is dehydrated.
Pre-Exercise Fluid Intake
Drinking water before training is the most important time to take fluids, which helps regulate nutrients and prepares your body for intense sweating and exhaustion.
Always make sure that you stay hydrated all throughout your training. Hydration is crucial to help transport nutrients and let you perform at your best in every sport you do. Replenishing lost fluids helps avoid dehydration, heat illness, and a life-threatening heat stroke. Make sure to take precautionary measures to determine signs and symptoms of dehydration, and keep water bottles handy for easy fluid access.