The Importance of Hydration for Athletes

By Su

Staying hydrated is important during racing, training, recovery and everyday life.  However this topic is often overlooked by endurance athletes. When training and racing in a hot environment, hydration is not so easily ignored as dehydration can hinder performance and risk an athlete’s health.

Dehydration

Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body’s ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making you work harder when exercising.

Hydration Guidelines

Every athlete is unique in what his/her ideal rate of fluid intake would be during an endurance event or sport activity. It can depend on many factors such as your sweat rate, gender, weight and temperature. As a guideline 0.4 to 0.8 liters/hour is recommended.

Before Exercise: Consume at least 500ml of fluid (water or cordial/squash) during the 2 hours prior to exercise.

During exercise:

  1. Water to ensure body water balance.
  2. Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Chloride) help the body to absorb and retain the water.

Drink frequently and consistently to ensure you are drinking enough. Examples of electrolyte drinks include: Endura, Dextro, Gu/High 5 electrolyte tablets.

Prolonged exercise (90 minutes +): Consume a sports drink (E.G Gatorade/Powerade, Gu/High 5 powdered carbohydrate drink) with 6-8 percent carbohydrate to promote fast absorption during activity.

After Exercise: 70-75% of muscle tissue is water so hydration is important after exercise to ensure adequate muscle recovery.

How to check hydration levels

  • A simple measure to check your hydration levels when training is to weigh yourself before and after the training session.
  • Your weight after exercise provides a measurement of how much fluid was lost during the activity.
  • For every kg of body weight lost through sweat it is recommended that fluid replacement should be 1.2-1.5 litres.

For more information contact Thanyapura Sports Scientist tom.topham@thanyapura.com.

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About the Author

The Importance of Hydration for AthletesTom Topham holds a 1st class honours degree in Sports Science (Human Performance) from Brunel University, England. He also comes from a triathlon background, competing as an age-grouper and holds a level 2 triathlon coaching qualification.

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