Did you know that losing only 1% of your body weight while sweating during a physical activity is enough to diminish your sports performance by 10%? This is why it is essential to maintain proper hydration, before, during and after physical activity.
Water is essential to the human body and becomes crucial when we practise sports. During exercise, your body dehydrates rapidly as it loses a lot of water, mainly through sweating. Not only is proper hydration essential to avoid health problems, it also allows you to increase your physical performance.
During intensive exercise, your body can lose up to one litre of water within an hour. Sweating and breathing are the main causes of this liquid loss. Water plays several important roles in our body. It helps circulate blood and oxygenate muscles, eliminates toxins, regulates body temperature, etc. Poor hydration can lead to the following symptoms:
- Sensation of thirst;
- increased heart rate;
- drop in blood pressure.
If not taken seriously, dehydration can have serious consequences.
When to drink
It is important to prevent dehydration associated with physical activity by beginning to drink water even before starting to exercise. It is recommended that you drink between 400 to 600 ml of water two hours before beginning any physical activity. This allows your body to absorb the water it needs; any surplus will be eliminated through the urine.
Hydration must be continued during the strenuous exercise. Avoid drinking large quantities of water during your physical activity, which may give you the feeling of being bloated and cause cramps. Drink small mouthfuls (75-150 ml water) every 15 minutes, or more if the temperature is very hot. You must not wait until thirsty to drink water because, once we feel thirsty, our body is already dehydrated.
You may lose a lot of body fluid during physical exercise, and it is necessary to compensate for this loss by drinking after you have finished your activity. Avoid drinking too rapidly in order to allow your body to slowly recuperate.
What to drink
The main goal is to replace any water lost during physical activity. Most of the time, ordinary water will suffice. When the exercise is intense and prolonged (longer than one hour), it may be useful to drink a liquid that contains a small quantity of sugar and salt. Some energy drinks contain caffeine or alcohol. Avoid drinking these products. It is better to choose a sports drink that contains mostly water, sugar, sodium, potassium and magnesium. You can also make your own home recipe from water, juice and salt.
Our body is comprised mostly of water, which is the basis of our life. Get the most benefits out of physical activity by ensuring you provide your body with the hydration it requires. Before, during and after exercise, don’t forget to bring out that water bottle!