What Does Water Do For You?
Water is an important nutrient for athletes. Water makes up 60 percent of your total body weight and 70 percent of your muscles. Without enough water, you can't work at your top level of performance and you may even harm yourself.
Water cools your body. As you exercise, your body temperature increased ( even when it's cold outside ). As your temperature increases, you sweat. When the sweat evaporates from your skin, your body cools down.
What Happens Without Water?
Dehydration. If you start exercising without having enough water in your body, or if you sweat during practice and do not replace the water lost, you may become dehydrated. You can become dehydrated even when you lose just a few pounds as sweat. Once you become dehydrated, you can no longer sweat and get rid of the heat that builds up in your body.
Dehydration can be dangerous. The first symptoms of dehydration include thirst, chills, clammy skin, throbbing heartbeat, and nausea. When you become more dehydrated, you may develop a headache, cramps, and shortness of breath, dizziness, and/or dryness in the mouth.
At the most serious level of dehydration, you can experience hallucinations, deafness, visual problems, swollen tongue, and/or kidney failure.
How Can You Avoid Dehydration?
* Drink plenty of cool fluids before, during, and after practice and competition. Even if you don't feel thirsty.
* Drink 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cool fluid 15 minutes before competition or practice.
* Drink 1/2 cup of fluid every 10-15 minutes during the event.
* Don't rely on thirst alone as a guide to how much water your body needs.
* Weigh yourself before and after exercising. For every pound lost as sweat,
drink two cups of fluid.
* Avoid salt tablets. Too much salt increases your body's water needs.
* Salt tablets can also irritate your stomach and cause nausea.
* Avoid working out in plastic or rubber suits. They can cause serious
dehydration, limit your performance, and lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
What Happens If Your Sweat Doesn't Evaporate?
For your body to cool down, two things must occur. You must sweat and the sweat must evaporate from your skin. If the sweat doesn't evaporate quickly enough to cool your body down, you can become overheated. This can happen when the weather is hot and humid or when you are wearing heavy gear.
You can avoid problems by following these tips when exercising during hot, humid weather :
* Exercise at the coolest time of the day--early morning or late evening.
* Avoid the middle of the day when the temperature is usually the highest.
* If you must practice then, build up your tolerance to heat by working out for a short time each day. Gradually increase the length of each workout.
* Wear the lightest clothing and equipment you can. Mesh jerseys, lightweight shorts, and low-cut socks allow more sweat to evaporate than sweat suits and heavy gear.
* Drink plenty of water before, during, and after practice and competition.
* When you exercise in cold weather, your body still sweats. To keep warm and still allow the sweat to evaporate, wear several layers of loose clothing. Layers of clothing will trap the warmth from your body while absorbing your sweat. If you become too warm, a layer can be removed and remember; drink water even in cold weather.
If exercise lasts longer than 60-90 minutes, an athlete may benefit from a sports drink containing a concentration of 8% carbohydrate. Drinks containing more than 8% (those that tend to be higher in sugar) may cause stomach cramps that can hinder performance.