Hydration is a vital component of sports performance, and is also hugely important for recovery afterwards. Dehydration can be caused by a number of different factors to people of all ages, the main causes are vomiting / diarrhoea, excess sweating and fever. In this article we are going to focus around athletes and sport where the main cause of dehydration is excess sweating caused by vigorous activity. But firstly let’s look at a scientific definition of dehydration:
Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.
Dehydration also can occur in any age group if you don’t drink enough water during hot weather — especially if you are exercising vigorously.
Some common symptoms of dehydration are
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
Information taken from the Mayo Clinic
Hydration in sport
Whether you’re a serious athlete or just exercise for recreation, it’s important to stay hydrated. Your body is made up of 60% water, losses as little as 2% can cause muscle fatigue, loss of coordination, inability to regulate body temperature, heat illness, cramps, heat exhaustion, decreased energy and athletic performance. Losing 2% of body water can happen much easier if you are exercising in hot climates or indoors.
Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you’re not hydrated, your body simply can’t perform at its highest level. Most people can tell if their getting dehydrated by thirst but depending on the temperature and the level of exercise, this can be too late. One simple way to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated is to check your urine, if your urine is usually colourless or light yellow, you are most likely well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber coloured urine can be a sign of dehydration.
Good hydration means getting the right amount of water before, during, and after exercise. So let’s start with prevention:
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables. Your thirst is always a good barometer so look up what the daily guideline are for water consumption and make sure to increase this the day or morning before doing a race, match or vigorous exercise. If you’re training in a hot climate you will need to over compensate to avoid heat exhaustion
During the activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue drinking water or other fluids after you’re finished.
Foods / drinks in addition to water
Apart from plain water, try to eat fruits or vegetables with high water content, also drink milk as believe it or not is more effective than sport drinks.
One of the best known rehydration methods is consuming oral rehydration salts, commonly referred to as ORS. The formula is a mix of salts, essential minerals and glucose that adds the electrolyte mix to water that the body needs for fast effective rehydration. One product we like and have tried and tested it is O.R.S. hydration tablets. These dissolvable hydration products are based on the World Health Organisation oral rehydration formula that is scientifically proven to provide faster, more effective hydration. They also have added magnesium and vitamin D to reduce fatigue and support muscle recovery.
Lastly avoid alcohol and caffeine which can cause a diuretic effect on your body, means that you may have to urinate more often.
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