• What do I need water for anyway?

         Adequate amounts of water are essential for proper circulation of nutrients to organs and cells throughout the body. Water regulates body temperature, it is important in removal of cellular and digestive waste. Proper water levels aid body tissues heal following an injury, and proper levels of hydration are important to maintain athletic performance and as well as concentration skills.

         Exercising in the heat, indoors and outdoors, and exercising for long periods of time should alert you to drink even more than your thirst suggests. Thirst is not an accurate indicator of how much water your body needs.


    What happens if I don't drink enough water?

         Even small amounts of dehydration may affect your performance, stamina and concentration. Muscle cramps are an indication of tired muscles with inadequate amounts of water available to promote recovery. Avoid muscle cramps by making certain you drink plenty of water hours before you actually need it. In addition, dehydration may affect heart function, make you dizzy or weak. Bigger athletes and the hardest working athletes need more water to ensure that their " engines don't overheat".


    Do I need Salt Tablets?

         The body knows how much salt it requires and the kidneys will conserve salts ( sodium and potassium ) as it deems necessary. Conditioned athletes will loose less salt in their perspiration as the body holds onto these minerals. With a balanced diet, what needs to be replaced is the fluid to circulate the salts. So, drink, drink, and drink; you can probably leave the salt alone.


    How much water and how often?

         Drink plenty of cold fluids before, during, and after exercise and work outdoors remembering that cold fluids empty from the stomach fastest. Plan ahead and drink 14 to 20 ounces of cold fluids before you start to exercise or work outdoors. Frequent small water breaks during a workout will get water to working muscles better than only one large water break. Remember that water deficiencies add up from day to day and may affect you after a period of time. During prolonged exercise in the heat, water looses as little as 2 percent of your body weight will affect circulation, heat dissipation and your performance. Develop the habit of drinking enough during practices as well as during competition.


    What type of fluid is best?

         Several factors enter into answering this question. The two most important, regardless of your personal reasons for choosing your drink, are how fast the fluid is emptied from the stomach and how well it is absorbed fro the intestines to become available to working muscles. A general rule to remember is: the grater the number of calories in the drink the slower it empties from the stomach.

         Drinks with slight sugar contents ( 6 percent ) have the ability to move almost as quickly as water. This is important in endurance activities and in repeated daily workouts as a source of both fluid and energy replacement. If you exercise less than one hour, water is sufficient since muscle and blood generally have enough stored energy for exercise bouts less than sixty minutes.


    Guidelines for choosing a sports drink

         The type of drink you choose to consume before during and after exercise is based on factors such as cost, availability, and taste preference. Educated athletes will find drinks that don't cause gastrointestinal distress as well as the sodium content, absorption rate and performance enhancement properties of various commercial sports drinks.


    Signs of heat distress

         Heat illness may occur over time. Signs and symptoms include fatigue, weakness, irritability, mental confusion and nausea. To monitor adequate fluid replacement, active people should weigh themselves before and after exercise. Immediate weight loss is water; 1 pint of fluid is needed to replace every 1 pound lost due to water. Don't assume that weight loss in hot weather is all fat loss; it may be due to water loss and inadequate replacement can set you up for heat illness.   


    Fluid tips to remember

         -Cold drinks are encouraged even when exercising.

         -Adequate amounts of fluid are vital for the body to control heat buildup during exercise.

         -Indoor exercise can produce the same symptoms of heat distress as outdoor activities.

         -Heat distress can be life threatening. Be aware that quick weight loss due to exercise may be mostly water.

        -Typically, most diets contain adequate amounts of salt. Salt tables are useful only for certain individuals who are on restricted diets or who exercise in hot weather repeatedly.

         -Be aware of which drink does not cause you distress during exercise. High calorie drinks generally leave the stomach slowly.

         -Plan ahead. Anticipate heat and be prepared with cold drinks when exercising.