Dr. Barbara Huggins

Water or Sports Drink?

August 3, 2006


Water or Sport Drink? -  August 3, 2006Water plays a critical role in how the body responds to physical activity. The body regulates its temperature by sweating, a process dependent on the amount of water in the body. If the amount of water drops below a certain level, the body cannot adequately sweat, and consequently, body temperature rises rapidly. This increase in core body temperature can negatively impact physical performance as well as cause one or more heat injuries.

Most athletes can avoid heat injuries by following simple steps that includes drinking water before, during and after exercise.

  • Before exercise
    Be adequately hydrated before exercise. The best way to do this is to consume about 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before exercise, and another 10 ounces of water or a sports drink 10 to 20 minutes before exercise.
  • During exercise
    Try and drink 10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
  • Use a clear water bottle that is easily accessible during practice. Clear water bottles marked with increments provide visual reminders on how much you should drink so that you are not just satisfying an initial thirst.
  • Rehydrate
    While a sports drink contains carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to speed rehydration, ANY fluid, including water, will do. Drink what tastes good to you. If water tastes too plain, and you are less likely to drink it, then a sports drink is a good choice.
  • Weather
    Pay special attention to exercise on hot, humid days. Very high relative humidity limits your body's ability to sweat, which means your core temperature will increase more rapidly due to the inability to dissipate heat.
  • Signs & Symptoms
    The basic signs and symptoms of dehydration include thirst, irritability, and general discomfort, followed by headache, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chills, vomiting, nausea, head or neck heat sensations, and decreased performance.
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