Water is, perhaps, the most essential component of the human body as it plays a vital role in maintaining cellular function. It carries nutrients, removes waste products, regulates body temperature (sweating), maintains blood circulation and pressure, facilitates digestion and lubricates joints and body tissues.
Due to this multi-functional character of water, staying hydrated is imperative. More so for regular fitness aficionados as optimal hydration can make a significant difference to their performance.
Importance Of Hydration –
Hydration is factorial to achieving success in your workout session. This is not just because it helps our body’s physical system to work better, but also because the human brain cannot function well within a system that does not meet the standards of optimum hydration.
Research shows that cognitive performance can drop sharply if body water levels drop by even 2% of body weight. Dehydration causes various problems like imbalance in bodily functions and symptoms including headaches, weakness, tiredness, confusion and mood swings.
Dehydration adversely affects cognitive capacity and hinders cognitive performance that are associated with skills such as perception, spatial ability, attention, instant memory and brain/physical interaction – so it’s pretty crucial to avoid dehydration.
Reasons Of Dehydration –
Under normal circumstances an average person usually loses 2-3 liters of water through urinating, sweating, and breathing. Another great factor behind dehydration is the environment. In an air-conditioned environment, the cool and dry air disseminated from the appliance pulls moisture from your lungs as you breathe. Therefore, you would be losing fluids quicker than you would in a normal environment where the air’s relative humidity is higher, even if you’re not thirsty or hot.
The amount of water each person needs varies according to aspects such as age, climate, diet (i.e. low calorie), physical activity, exercise and pregnancy. Another important thing to remember is that drinking water only when feeling thirsty also causes dehydration.
Proper hydration is extremely essential to maintain great athletic performance and health. Understanding the hydration process before, during and after your workouts is, therefore, necessary.
• Pre-Workout Hydration –
Before going for a long run, a race, or a training workout, it is good to drink plenty of fluids, such as water, pure fruit juice or other nutrient rich fluids. Also, monitor the color of your urine, which, ideally should be pale yellow, not clear.
If you do workout in the mornings, drink 2 cups of fluid two hours beforehand. This gives the kidneys enough time to process the liquids, in turn, giving you sufficient time to clear your bladder before starting the workout.
In case of an athletic event, it is advisable to drink another 5 to 10 oz. of water or sports drink thirty minutes prior to the beginning of event.
• During Workout Hydration -
Every athlete has unique hydration needs. It is good to weigh yourself before and after exercise, in order to correctly estimate the volume of fluid your body requires and to remain hydrated during exercise.
Drinking an additional 16 oz is important for each pound lost during exercise.
• Post-Workout Hydration –
To make up for the amount of fluid dropped during exercise, you can evaluate yourself before and after exercise. In case your body weight is increased, this means you have over-hydrated and it’s the time to drink less fluid in future exercise sessions.
The amount of fluid that your body needs depends upon how much you’ve sweated and the temperature of the environment. On hot days it becomes necessary to drink more water than average to stay hydrated. But do not overdo on sugary drinks, as this may lead to consume more calories than you’ve burned off during the exercise.
It all comes down to smart planning. Make strategies and follow a strict but consistent hydration protocol to get better results.
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