While working out in the gym or playing sports, it is important to stay hydrated. It is all too easy to overlook such a simple thing as drinking plenty of fluids to offset what is lost while sweating and exerting the muscles but the effects of dehydration can be very debilitating, especially when exercising in hot or dry weather. A loss of fluids equals a loss of blood volume, essentially the blood thickens, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This can result in muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, or circulatory collapse. Compounded with exercise on a hot day and heat exhaustion or heat stroke can result. For their best performance, athletes must maintain proper hydration before, during, as well as after the workout.
Water vs Sport Drink
Although water is the best solution for hydrating the body under most conditions, sports drinks such as Gatorade, Lucozade, and Powerade can be of immense help to the athlete putting in long workouts. Among water’s many benefits, it lubricates joints and tissues, regulates the body’s temperature, and and it helps move nutrients and waste products within the body. During a workout however, athletes lose not only fluids but also electrolytes, due to sweating. Electrolytes include minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium, the loss of which makes the body become dehydrated. Along with electrolytes, the body uses up carbohydrates as fuel. This is another area where sports drinks provide where water alone cannot. Most sports drink brands also provide a carbohydrate boost as well to help athletes complete their workouts and sports competitions without crashing from exhaustion.
Other useful tips for avoiding dehydration include making sure to drink liquids a couple of hours before starting as well as taking breaks during the workout to drink small amounts in order to maintain a flow of fluids as the body begins to lose them. For long workouts, those lasting over an hour, sports drinks become essential to replace the lost electrolytes. Keeping them at a comfortable temperature, around seventy degrees, also allows for easier absorption and prevents shocking the body with something suddenly too cold. Remember while working out, the body is generating a lot of heat. The key is to maintain a pace that allows for the body to remain in balance during the workout to prevent any injuries. Also remember that it is just as important to drink liquids after the workout as a final measure to make sure the body is hydrated, and all the minerals lost through sweating and exertion are replaced. Following these tips can help insure that workouts are safe, efficient, and above all, enjoyable.