As athletes, we already know that staying hydrated is incredibly important for us to play well and get the most out of all our training sessions. However, despite understanding its importance, there are still many things that athletes don’t know about proper hydration. The seven facts below will help you understand why being hydrated helps you perform better and how you can optimize your water intake to be a better athlete.
1. Muscles are 75% water
This means if you are dehydrated, your muscles can’t contract at their peak levels. This can negatively impact your strength and speed making your performance suffer and putting you at a great risk of injury.
3-5% dehydration does not seem to affect muscle strength or performance during short sessions of anaerobic exercise like weight lifting but it does affect aerobic athletes such as runners. In fact, distance runners slow their pace by 2% for each percent of body weight lost through dehydration.”
2. Dehydration percentages matter
Difference levels of dehydration will have different effects on your body. In addition, the higher your level of dehydration, the more difficult it is to hydrate.
- 1% dehydration signals thirst
- 2% dehydration can impede sports performance
- 4% dehydration causes fatigue, weakness and mental decline
- 5%+ dehydration can require hospitalization
3. There’s such a thing as overhydration
While rare, water intoxication can occur if you’re exercising for extended periods of time (such as running a marathon or participating in a day-long tournament) and drinking only water and not replenishing your electrolytes! Your body’s electrolyte levels can become so diluted that your muscles cease to function.
Electrolytes serve to direct water and nutrients to the area’s they’re needed most and balance fluid within the cells. So if you are depleting your electrolyte balance by exercising for long periods of time, your body is no longer able to identify where water is required in your body and your performance will suffer.
4. Water loss can be measured
To determine how much water you’ve lost during a workout just weigh yourself (with little or no clothing) before your workout and again after one hour of hard exercise with no fluid intake. The change in body weight reflects sweat loss. A one pound loss equals a loss of 16 oz. of sweat. Drink accordingly during future workouts to prevent that loss.
5. Daily minimum water amounts depend on your body weight
You’ve probably heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day but that number isn’t actually valid for everyone. A better guideline for your minimum daily water requirements is based on your body weight. To determine how much you need, divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water. For example, if you are 140 pounds, you should drink a minimum of 70 ounces of water per day.
6. High altitude training requires more water
High altitude air is dryer and has lower air pressure, especially at elevations of 8000 ft and higher. This means that moisture evaporates more quickly from your skin than at lower altitudes. This causes you to dehydrate more easily making it more difficult to measure your hydration levels and leaving you at an increased risk of an elevated heart rate. To help avoid altitude dehydration you should drink plenty of water on your way to altitude, ease into your activity and continually drink water throughout your training session.
7. Water can also affect your mood
Two studies published by the University of Conneticut drew a correlation between hydration and emotions. Their tests showed that, whether you’re active or inactive, even minor dehydration can cause fatigue, irritability, anxiety and poor concentration.
Proper hydration is just one component that goes into ensuring we’re performing at our peak athletic ability. For more tips on preparing your body to perform everyday, check out our QiVantage Day-to-Day Muscle Recovery Checklist.