“The Importance of Hydration”

by Dr. Stefane Dias, KU Orlando Professor of Exercise Science

Whether it is a high-performance athlete, experienced exercise practitioner or even those who are at the beginning phase in their practice of activities or physical exercises, hydration is fundamental for the maintenance of physiological balance.

One of the most utilized forms of hydration is water intake. Water makes up approximately 60% of the average person’s bodyweight, and hydration has a primary function in the body relating to the maintenance of its proper function, the preservation of physiological functions, the transport of nutrients, and the regulation of body temperature.

Sweat is composed of sodium, potassium and small amounts of calcium and iron, in addition to water.  A high volume of sweat can lead to hyponatremia, which is the loss of sodium through sweat.  When severe, hyponatremia can lead to death. In such cases sports drinks (such as Gatorade or Powerade) become a good option for certain individuals because they can replenish water, carbohydrates and minerals.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the ingestion of fluids is essential for maintaining performance in physical exercises before, during and after the activity. Approximately two hours before activity, training or competition, it is advisable to ingest 14-20 oz of water. During activity, drink small amounts every 15-20 min, between 4-8 oz, which may be water or sports drinks.  Once the training session has ended, the practitioner needs to drink a significantly greater amount, and it is recommended to consume 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of bodyweight lost.

Remember that a person should not drink water in large quantities at one time, avoiding the sensation of a “full stomach” and also the risk of hyponatremia. Even though water is the most accessible fluid most of the time, juices or sports drinks are welcome because of their high glycemic index which can help in performance and recovery from prolonged endurance activities.

We also emphasize that physical activity should be guided by a certified personal trainer, and include proper hydration, especially in the summer.

 

Article written by: Dr. Stéfane Dias – Professor of Exercise Science at Keiser University Orlando; Dr. Fabio Vieira – Professor of Exercise Science at University of Brasil; Diego Lacerda, Ms. –  Performance Coach; and Rokaya Mikhailenko – Exercise Science student at Keiser University Orlando.