Monday, October 18, 2021

The Importance of Proper Hydration - See What Doug At Tonicity Fit Has To Say



One of the most important, yet easily overlooked areas of exercise performance is the necessity of proper hydration levels. Adequate water levels in the body are crucial to exercise performance as water’s responsibilities include regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and maintaining a consistent blood pH. All of these factors benefit exercise with lower stress levels, less strain on the body, and improving performance/expediting recovery. Below we touch on a few key areas of hydration. 


Dehydration

When inadequate water levels are consumed, the condition known as dehydration occurs. Likely, at one point in time, everyone has experienced the symptoms associated with dehydration. A rapid heart rate, headaches, fatigue, and muscle cramps are common signs and symptoms experienced by dehydrated athletes. Dehydration greatly hampers performance and the ability to regulate body temperature, especially in hot temperatures, which could lead to severe life threatening events.


Hyperhydration

On the opposite end of the spectrum, hyperhydration, or excessive water intake, causes serious problems as well. The saying “too much of a good thing can be bad” rings true for most everything in life, including water intake! When excessive water levels are consumed, a condition known as hyponatremia can occur which is just as serious as dehydration. Hyponatremia causes electrolytes (which help generate nerve signals and muscle contractions) to be flushed out of the body through excessive urination. Feelings of extreme lethargy, headaches, and nausea are common early warning symptoms of this condition which can result in hospitalization.  


Finding your adequate Hydration level

It is recommended that exercising males consume approximately 1 gallon of water per day while exercising females consume around ¾ of a gallon each day. I would recommend keeping a water bottle with a known volume by you at all times. This allows for easy tracking of daily water intake based on how many times you finish the bottle. It is important to note that fluid needs increase for individuals who have higher activity levels or are larger in size. For example, a cyclist performing a three hour bike ride will need significantly more water than someone walking their dog for 30 minutes. Also, a 6’4” individual will need more water than a 5’4” individual.

An easy way to determine if you are properly hydrated is by urination frequency and color. Ideally, urination frequency should occur approximately every two hours. A pale yellow color indicates proper hydration status. Excessively clear urine could indicate hyperhydration, and dark yellow urine indicates the need for additional water intake.


Other considerations

A few other things to consider on this topic. Coffee, a prevalent beverage consumed in the morning, functions as a diuretic causing excessive urination thus lowering our water levels. For anyone consuming coffee, be mindful to drink adequate water levels throughout the day -- especially when you plan to exercise later on. 

Additionally, hydration levels are temperature dependent. Excess heat causes excess water loss through sweat, which constitutes extra fluid needs evident during the summer. On the contrary, water loss through respiration occurs at a greater rate when it is cold and dry in the winter. Therefore, it is vital to drink the same amount of water on cold, winter days as the summer, though you may feel less thirsty due to the temperature difference. 

Finally, it is important to replenish fluids as soon as you are done exercising because it is likely that you are trending towards a dehydrated state. It is recommended to consume between 2 to 3 cups of water for every 1 lb. of body weight lost during exercise. To figure this out, simply weigh yourself before and after exercise to determine how much water you should consume!




About Doug: 

    Doug is a recent graduate from Eastern University with a B.S. in Exercise Science. Currently, he is enrolled at West Chester University working on his M.S. in Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in Applied Sport Performance. He is ACSM certified as a Certified Exercise Physiologist and holds a First Aid / CPR / AED certification. As a former collegiate athlete, Doug has a strong appreciation for the importance of incorporating daily fitness into an individual’s lifestyle. He enjoys helping others identify and pursue their individual health and fitness goals. He also likes being outdoors and loves being on the water fishing, kayaking, and canoeing! 





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