Hydration - Part One


As the summer approaches we become more aware of the need to hydrate better. Should you drink water or other drinks? That depends on how long you are working out for and the event that you are participating in.

Why is being hydrated so important? 

Water carries nutrients to cells and carries waste products away from the cells. Sweating helps maintain body temperature. Lean tissue is more than 70% water, and about 60% of the total body weight is water.  Sweat rates vary during exercise from 0.3 to 2.4 L/h dependent on exercise intensity, duration, fitness, heat, acclimatization, altitude, and other environmental conditions (heat, humidity, etc.). Although athletes respond individually to the degree of effects of dehydration, fluid deficits of >2% body weight can compromise cognitive function and reduce aerobic exercise performance, making exercise seem harder. Fluid deficits of 3-5% body weight can affect performance in anaerobic, high intensity sports and aerobic exercise in cool environments. Athletes who are dehydrated are not able to stay as cool during exercise and may develop heat illness.

What to Rehydrate with? 

While plain water is one of the best hydrators, it is only beneficial for events lasting 60 minutes or less.  Beyond 60 minutes, you should be using a sports drink (not an energy drink), such as Gatorade, Powerade or similar products, which should have 6 – 8% carbohydrates, sodium and other minerals to prevent cramping. 

When and how much do I drink? 

That depends on many factors; including, but not limited to your intensity, durance of exercise, climate, etc. Depending on the researcher, some say you should drink at set time, others say when you feel for it; my view is as long as you aren’t putting yourself in harm’s way and use trial & error during your training. 

Next, the real dangers of dehydration or overhydration.