Hydrating for Sport Performance
Water is the most abundant (and overlooked) element in the body. In fact, experts rank water second only to oxygen as essential for life and say most of us aren’t getting enough water.
Whether you're just starting out with an exercise plan or you're a highly trained athlete, we've got some quick tips to help you understand the importance of hydration on your performance.
The importance of pre-hydration before your workout or event:
- The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 14-20 ounces of ﬂuid 2 hours before exercise to make sure you're adequately hydrated.
- Athletes who are dehydrated when they start competing don't perform as well. Why? Starting your workout dehydrated reduces the amount of ﬂuid circulating in your bloodstream and bathing your body's cells. Less circulating ﬂuid makes your heart work harder during exercise, drives up your heat production, and limits your body's ability to cool itself. Increased body temperature also affects your mental performance.
- According to the ACSM, being dehydrated by more than 2% of body weight can signiﬁcantly affect performance.
- Drinking water regulates your body temperature. That means you’ll feel more energetic when exercising. Water also helps fuel your muscles.
Why you need to stay hydrated during exercise:
- In a dehydrated state, your muscles fatigue and may develop cramps.
- Hydration keeps your heart rate lower, longer.
- Both aerobic and endurance activities are affected, performance worsens in a hot environment and as dehydration increases.
- Hydration keeps you from overheating. As you exercise, your muscles generate heat. The body dissipates this heat through sweat, and as the sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Since sweat is made up of about 95% water, you need water in order to sweat normally.
- Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints and it helps cushion joints to keep muscles working properly.
- Approximately 70-75% of muscle is made up of water, so maintaining the right water balance is necessary for peak muscle performance.
- Athlete studies show a 1% loss in body fluid will slow you down 2%.
Don't stop there! Be sure to stay hydrated after, too!
- Proper hydration has been shown to relieve back and joint pain for as many as 80% of sufferers.
- Wake up! Dehydration is the #1 cause for afternoon fatigue.
- By the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
- Hydrated skin looks younger: Your skin is the first place to lose water.
- Water delivers the nutrients your body needs—never run on empty.
By Doug Casa
Doug and his team work with athletes, soldiers and laborers of all levels and abilities, including NFL players to ensure they perform safely on and off the field.
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