Water is crucial as it plays many important roles in the body including regulating body temperature and blood volume. Sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself down during exercise, but this results in body fluid loss. If this fluid loss is not replaced this can lead to dehydration. An increase in dehydration is linked to a decrease in performance.
Some signs of dehydration include; impaired skill level, mental fatigue, lack of concentration, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and other gastro-intestinal problems.
The amount and timing of fluid is dependent on the individual, the weather and the regulations of the sport. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated during activity;
- Always ensure you are hydrated before exercise (aim for pale-yellow, straw coloured urine)
- Avoid over consuming fluid prior to and during exercise as this can lead to gastrointestinal upsets and an increased frequency in urination.
- You continue to lose fluid after exercise, so plan to replenish 125-150% of lost fluid over a 4-6 hour window post-exercise
- Hydrate with water if the sports event is 60 minutes or less (and possibly up to 90 minutes if low intensity).
- Sports drinks can be used for hydration as well as fuel alongside water during exercise that is longer than 60-90 minutes as they contain both carbohydrates and fluid to help hydrate and fuel your body at the same time. However sports drinks are not necessary or suitable for everyone.
- There is no one size fits all approach to hydration. See an Accredited Sports Dietitian to develop a hydration plan that is suited to your needs.