Hydration in Sport & Exercise

Hydration in Sport & Exercise – words by Marika Day

 B. Hlth Sci (Nut) & M Diet St, APD

Hydration is key to optimizing performance during exercise whether it is for competition, training or recreational sport. During exercise the body maintains body temperature though sweating. Sweat production increases with increased exercise intensity, temperature and humidity. If adequate fluids are not consumed to replace fluid losses from sweat, dehydration can occur. Fluid requirements vary between individuals and exercise situations and can be affected by genetics, body size, fitness, exercise intensity and the environment. The most practical way to monitor sweat loss is to measure weight loss during a session.

How does dehydration affect my performance?

As dehydration increases there is a reduction in both physical and mental performance. Studies have shown that fluid losses equal to 2% of body mass are sufficient to cause a decrease in performance. Dehydration can lead to:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Reduced concentration
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased perception of effort

Tips for staying hydrated

Drinking fluid before, during and after exercise helps to prevent dehydration. The amount and type of fluid will depend on the individual and the sport

  • Begin each exercise session well hydrated: drink water regularly throughout the day leading up to training
  • Aim for a pale-yellow colour urine
  • Immediately before exercise consume 200-600mL fluid
  • Develop a plan for fluid intake for all exercise sessions longer than 30 minutes
  • Begin drinking early in exercise sessions and continue to sip regularly

What to drink?

Water is effective for rehydration and fluid replacement in low intensity and short duration sports. Exercise that involves longer durations or higher intensity may require fluids which contain carbohydrate and electrolytes to enhance performance.

Get a personalised hydration plan that’s right for your body by booking an appointment with an Eat Smart Dietitian.  Clinic locations, days and times can be found on our website www.eatsmartnutrition.com

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