Hydration Strategies for Hot Weather

In warm weather, how can you find the energy to get outside and exercise? By using the proper hydration strategies, you can have enjoy energy to perform you best even if the weather is at its worst.

Water is an important nutrient that composes approximately 50-60 percent of our body weight. For years, we’ve been told to drink eight glasses of water a day for optimal health. But that one-size-fits-all prescription no longer fits a training athlete. Fluid intake is an important part of training and athletic performance. The benefits of adequate fluid and electrolyte intake during exercise include lower heart rate, improved blood flow to working muscles and skin, body temperature control, support for muscular contraction, preventing hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels), quick recovery, improved performance and lower perceived exertion.

Health experts have found that fluid requirements vary from person to person, and for many of us, the best way to stay adequately hydrated is to stick to a schedule. Most recreation athletes require approximately 11 to 15 cups of water daily, according to the Institute of Medicine. Several factors influence the need for water, including climate, muscle mass, physical activity, and diet. The goal of athletes is to consume enough water during sessions to maintain 100 percent fluids lost through perspiration. Sports science research conducted with many differing sports contested that in hot weather when an athlete loses even as little as 2 percent of fluids, performance may decline by as much as 10 percent.

Proper hydration is achieved during exercise by consuming fluids and electrolytes at regular intervals. During training distractions may prevent athletes from recognizing their thirst, occasionally fluids are not available precisely when thirst occurs, and by the time thirst is felt an athlete may already be dehydrated. Recommendations for hydration before, during and after exercise to ensure optimal sports performance are as follows:

Before Exercise Drink 16 oz 2 hours before activity

Then 8-16 oz fifteen minutes before exercise

During Exercise Drink 4-16 oz every 15-20 minutes depending on tolerance

Fluids:

4 oz per 15 minutes = .5 liter per hour

8 oz per 15 minutes = 1 liter per hour

12 oz per 15 minutes = 1.5 liters per hour

16 oz per 15 minutes = 2 liters per hour

Sodium:

500-700 mg sodium per liter of fluid or at least 1 gram per hour during heavy exercise and/or sweating (heat and humidity)

After Exercise Drink 16-24 oz per pound of body weight lost during exercise.

Consume sodium chloride (salty foods, sports drinks) to speed the rehydration process.

Some of the best hydration strategies are:

  • Hydrate daily: The body performs best when the athlete is already engaged in day to day hydration practices. This includes regular water consumption through the course of each day.
  • Pre-hydration: The athlete consumes 16 oz. of water approximately two hours before the start of the session.
  • Event hydration: In short distance races, an athlete may only consume fluids at one interval but in distance events it is recommended for athletes to seek fluids every 1-2 minutes, in quantities of 4-16 oz.

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