The temperatures here in Chicago have been sweltering the last few days and I have been guzzling water like it's my second job to try to keep from getting dehydrated. This hot weather spike got my wheels turning thinking about proper hydration for athletes and I thought I would share a few tips:
Why is it proper hydration important?
Your strength and endurance depend on you to drink plenty of water--even minor dehydration reduces stamina, reaction time, concentration and coordination. Through normal daily activity alone (sitting, urinating, breathing, and bowel movements) the average adult loses about 10 cups or more of water. The amount can drastically increase during hot, humid weather.
Therefore, the fluids you lose naturally throughout the day and during physical activity and heavy training need to be replaced in order for you to remain adequately hydrated. It is important that athletes drink plenty of fluid before exercise in order to be adequately hydrated when they start and to help prevent dehydration during exercise.
Tips on drinking enough fluids:
Drink early and often --before, during and after intense physical activity. In addition to sipping water throughout the day:
Drink 2 cups (16 oz.) 2 hours before physical activity
Drink 1 to 2 cups 15 minutes before physical activity
Drink 1- 1.5 cups every 15-20 minutes during physical activity
Drink 3 cups for each pound of body weight lost after physical activity
Don't rely on feeling thirsty- thirst is a symptom of dehydration, once you feel thirsty it is already too late, so drink fluids before this happens
Make a plan- before you head out on a run, bike or any other activity find out where you can find fluids. Is there a water fountain or store along the way? Or carry a bottle belt or hydration pack to guarantee you'll have access to fluids.
Urine color as an indicator- In healthy adults dark-colored urine can be an indicator of dehydration, drink enough fluids so that your urine is nearly colorless or pale yellow before resuming exercise
Fluid choices- which is best?
Water is always a great choice, especially for workouts lasting less than 30 minutes since sports drinks and juices have added calories you won't necessarily need. If your activity is lasting more than an hour, sports drinks may offer benefits toward your performance. Look for sports drinks with 14 to 19 grams of carbohydrates per 8 ounces--the glucose (simple carbohydrate) in the drink is a more immediate energy source for your muscles. Sports drinks can also help to replace the small amounts of sodium and electrolytes that are lost during perspiration.
And of course, make sure that you are hydrating properly without overhydrating. While rare, water toxicity can happen if you consume too much water.