Hydration is talked about a lot in sport and exercise performance, but what do you actually need to know? Why is it so important to keep yourself hydrated?
On average, you gain and lose around 2.5L of water every day.
This number varies from person to person, and it increases significantly when you exercise as you are sweating and are breathing faster. So, topping up regularly is a must!
Our sweat isn’t just made up of water – it also contains electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. It’s important to replace these electrolytes as well to stay hydrated, so make sure to drink a sports drink like HIGH5 ZERO while exercising.
Your brain is made up of mostly water
We all know that over half of our bodies is made up of water, but we often forget this means all of our bodies! Dehydration can significantly affect your brain function, and in turn, exercise performance. You’ll feel tired more quickly and you won’t be able to control your temperature as well as usual – in fact, research shows that just a 2% loss of fluids can reduce your short-term memory, motor speed and attention. The more dehydrated you are, the bigger the effect.
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that help your bloody chemistry, muscle action and processes.
Sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are electrolytes – you can find them in water and food, but an electrolyte drink such as HIGH5 ZERO is a sure way of making sure your levels are topped up sufficiently.
Your daily intake of water should be 2.5L for men and 2L for women.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends a daily intake of 2-2.5L of water… so get gulping!
Prehydration is just as important as during exercise.
Athletes often don’t think about pre-hydration, but making sure you are well hydrated before you start your run or ride is key, especially in hot weather. If you’re dehydrated before you hit the road, your heart will need to work harder and your body will find it more difficult to control your core temperature. This can lead to a drop in performance, so start well-hydrated to enjoy your sport more.
Dehydration can affect your energy levels
As your muscle cells are almost ¾ water, you’ll feel the strain if you’re short on fluids! Drinking little and often will give you the best chance of hitting your targets, but how much depends on how long you are exercising and how much you sweat.
To work it out, weigh yourself before and after exercise, and calculate the difference of your pre and post-exercise weight, making sure to include any fluids you drank during this period too. Then divide the difference by the duration you exercised for your hourly sweat rate. Use this calculator to help.
You often end exercise dehydrated
No matter how good your hydration strategy is, you should always keep drinking during recovery. Aim to replace 150% of the fluids you lost during exercise within 3 hours of finishing.
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