Water is one of the basic needs essential for sustaining human life. It plays many roles in the body such as regulating body temperature and maintaining blood volume. During exercise and physical activity, the body cools itself by sweating and if this fluid loss is not replaced can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can lead to decreases in physical and mental performance in both a sporting and work context.
What can I do to avoid becoming dehydrated?
The best strategy is to ensure that you hydrate before exercise or physical activity, particularly on hot and humid days. Fluid intake should include at least 300-600mL with food two to four hours prior to exercise or physical activity, then 300-450mL in the 15-20mins leading up to exercise or physical activity. A good way to monitor whether you are adequately hydrated at this time is based on the colour and odour of your urine. It should be a light straw colour and relatively odourless. If it isn’t then you haven’t drunk enough!
During exercise or physical activity, fluid requirements are variable. To avoid dehydration, the simplest strategy is to drink at a rate that is comfortable and practical to replace most of the fluid lost by sweating. Consume a beverage that is cool and palatable. You should not rely on thirst as a sign to drink more water as this is your body telling you that you are already beginning to become dehydrated. Most sports have a hot weather policy, which includes increased stoppages in play so make the most of them!
In the two to four hours after exercise or physical activity, you should aim to consume 150% of the fluid lost. To determine how much fluid is lost you should weigh yourself before and after exercise or physical activity, as 1kg of weight lost is equal to 1L of fluid. For example, if you have lost 2kg following a rugby league match you should aim to drink 3L in the next two to four hours. Fluids should be consumed in conjunction with a salty snack, such as salted popcorn, to improve fluid retention, by minimising urine losses. Further, consuming beverages such as flavoured milk will have the added benefit of contributing to post exercise or physical activity carbohydrate (1g per kilogram of bodyweight) and protein (10-20g) requirements. As unpopular as it may seem, you should avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol after exercise or physical activity as this promotes urination and further fluid loss.
If you have any concerns please discuss with the Physio Connex Performance Clinic team in North Wyong, we are here to help you to achieve optimal performance and vitality. Contact us today on (02) 4314 5183.