Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hydration of athletes: The importance of good hydration

Proper hydration is helpful for achieving the best performance in elite athletes. Adequate fluid intake is also helpful for recreational exercisers to exercise at their best. There have been recommendations about how much water or sports drinks are needed and over the years athletes were advised to drink much more water than we now know is necessary. 
 
Whether you’re a serious athlete or recreational exerciser, it’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during and after exercising. Water regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients for energy and health. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body will be unable to perform at its highest level, and you may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness or more serious symptoms. So what is the right amount of fluid to drink? Well, that all depends, and in fact, it may not be that important to try to figure it out. 

A simple way to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated is to check your urine. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

The American Council on Fitness has suggested the following basic water intake guidelines for people doing moderate- to high-intensity exercise:
  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

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