Our body is made up of 60% water (can be up to 78% depending on age) water.
It is crucial for survival so it is important to be aware of our body’s need for hydration. Our body needs water for the following functions:
- It transports materials throughout the body
- It eliminates toxins and waste products
- It acts as solvents for nutrients
- It regulates body temperature
- It is used for energy product in
- It aids in digestion and absorption
Every system in the entire body depends on water and requires hydration!
It is recommended that the average individual take in at least 3L of water a day…that figure is raised to 4L during hot days or in hot climates.
Sports and Hydration
Caffeinated beverages, such as soft drinks, coffee and tea act as diuretics and can increase urination that can lead to dehydration. It’s important therefore to consult your Sports Dietician if using caffeine pre-event to ensure you are getting the stimulant vs hydration balance right.
What happens during exercise?
Heat is generated as a by-product of your working muscles. As body heat rises, body temperature and heart rate also rise. As the exercise continues, the body is limited in transferring heat from the muscles to the skin surface. The body will require hydration.
Exercising in hot, dry climates presents additional risks to dehydration. Body fluids will evaporate rapidly so that you may not notice any symptoms. In humid climates, when moisture increases, sweat decreases. When your sweating rate decreases, your body temperature rises and you will fatigue more easily and your risk of heat injury is greater.
What is heat injury?
Heat injuries include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Heat cramps are severe muscle spasms resulting from heavy sweating.
- Heat exhaustion is severe fatigue resulting from excessive exposure to heat that can lead to collapse.
- Heat stroke is a life threatening condition that develops rapidly and may not have any warning signs. It is the third leading cause of death among athletes.
There are three factors that contribute to heat injuries. They are –
- Increased body temperature
- Loss of body fluids
- Loss of electrolytes
Symptoms to look for include –
- Goose pimples on your chest and upper arms
- Headache faintness
- Muscle cramping
- Cessation of sweating
To reduce the risk of heat injuries, adequate fluid replacement is essential before, during and after exercise.
What fluid is best for rehydration?
Water is the appropriate drink before, during and after exercise. However, for exercise lasting longer than one hour and after exercise, it is important to replace electrolytes lost. Sodium replacement not only maintains blood concentration but also increases palatability, and therefore the desire to drink.
The addition of carbohydrates will delay the onset of fatigue and help to maintain blood glucose concentration. A sport drink with 4%-8% carbohydrate is recommended for replacement during exercise, especially with exercise bouts lasting longer than one hour.
So the next time you exercise, remember the importance of hydration. It is a simple step that can save your life!