Active? Why you should start drinking before you get thirsty

Health & Well Being at Work

When you're physically active on a hot day and don’t have the opportunity to take on sufficient water, you might notice that your calf muscles develop a cramp. If you continue the muscle will develop an extremely annoying trembling feeling. If you’re lucky enough to take a few sips of water at this stage, the cramp might disappear for a very short period of time but when it does return your breathing might resemble that of someone having an asthma attack. Despite the hot weather, you might start to feel a chill, which will inevitably be followed by dizziness and if you don’t stop running immediately, you could lose consciousness. These are all the signs that are associated with an electrolyte and fluid imbalance. For those being physical for long periods this can be dangerous to your health, which is why you must develop a regime to drink sufficient water before you become thirsty. Prevention is much easier than the cure. The difference between professional and amateur athletes One of the major differences between professional and amateur athletes is not about the amount of money that the athletes receive, but about the way they understand the science of the way that their body works. Professional athletes understand water loss during a race and will hydrate their body sufficiently before a race so that the body is able to function all the way to the finishing line. Amateur athletes will fail to consume enough water before and during a race and you will see them rocking-and-rolling as they try to complete the final push or last mile. When you feel thirsty, you will already have lost about 3% of your body’s water, causing you to be extremely dehydrated. This equates to reducing your best performance by over 15%. This will lose you the marathon or long distance track race. To put this into perspective, if someone running a 10k is 2% dehydrated, the race will take them almost 3 minutes longer to complete. Dehydration can reach the stage of becoming life-threatening when between 10% and 20% of a person’s body weight is lost. Making sure urine is the right colour Taking on a lot of water before or during a race is not productive. Your body prefers to sip fluids gradually throughout the day. If all other aspects of your health are in perfect condition, your urine will flow as a very pale yellow colour if you are fully hydrated. Be aware that any caffeine or soda bubbles in what you consume can reduce the amount of fluid in your body. Experts suggest that you need to gradually take in around 16 ounces of plain water at least an hour before exercising. It is better if this water is taken in gradually, than in one quick drink. That’s because you need to maintain a fluid balance during the exercise as you will lose sweat, which will become more rapid the longer you exercise. Where possible, your body will benefit from drinking 6 to 7 ounces of fluid, roughly every 20 minutes of exercise. For an amateur exercise, this is quite easy to achieve, but not for a professional athlete in the middle of a 10,000 m race. When you start to feel thirsty, your body is telling you that it is already dehydrated. It takes good practice and planning to ingest sufficient water before you begin exercising while still avoiding feeling bloated.   Make sure you always have enough to drink with our Eden Springs bottled water and water dispensers.   Image credit: Homespot HQ