What should athletes know about drinking enough
Whenever you move your muscles, you generate heat. (In fact, this is the only way your body can produce heat, which is why you shiver when you are cold.) When you exercise, your body produces sweat, which is mostly water. As the sweat evaporates, it carries heat away from your skin, which cools you.
If you lose too much water, you can become dehydrated. With mild exercise, this is not a problem. However, if you are going to exercise vigorously, or if you will be outside on a hot day, you need to drink extra water to replace what you will lose. Just follow these three simple guidelines:
1. 1-2 hours before you work out, drink 1-2 cups of water.
2. As you exercise, drink half a cup of water every 20 minutes.
3. After you finish, drink another 1-2 cups of water.
Do not depend upon your sense of thirst. It will not kick in fast enough when you exercise heavily, and you may become dehydrated. The symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, headache, body ache, and a drop in energy. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop what you are doing, go to a cool place, and drink some water.
Cool water is the best liquid to drink. It is fashionable to use sports drinks, because they are advertised so excessively. However, unless you are exercising heavily for more than 90 minutes, plain water is best.
One warning: Long distance runners and cyclists will often drink, drink, drink, and many of them consume too much water. When this happens, the salt in their blood will become diluted at the same time as they are losing salt from sweating.
If the salt content of your blood becomes too low, it causes a serious condition called hyponatremia. Unfortunately, the symptoms of hyponatremia can mimic those of dehydration, so do replace the water you lose, but do not drink to excess.
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