When you exercise, your body loses a lot of water and mineral salts. That's why you need to keep hydrating to combat the loss of fluids and keep exercising comfortably. Yet many people pay too little attention to it, with all its consequences.
Some factoids about water
- More than half (about 60%) of your body weight consists of water.
- Water is the ideal means of transport for transporting oxygen to the body cells.
- Water plays an important role in regulating your body temperature.
- Water contains electrolytes, which affect the conduction of nerve impulses.
- No water means no enzymes that trigger millions of chemical reactions that keep your body functioning properly.
Supplement fluid loss
To explain why hydration is so important, let's talk about electrolytes first. These are minerals in the body that have an electrical charge. The most common are sodium, chloride, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. Electrolytes have several functions, including:
- Regulating the fluid balance and the pH value (acidity) of the blood
- Sending nerve impulses to the body parts
- Transport of oxygen to the brain
- Tensing / relaxing of the muscles
Your body loses electrolytes during exercise. This gives sweat a salty taste. The more intensive the exercise, the more electrolytes are lost. That is why it is important to replenish fluids, especially electrolytes. You can do this with salty snacks or isotonic sports drinks. This is recommended for prolonged exercise (2 hours or more).
Danger of dehydration
If you lose a lot of body water and don't replenish it, you get dehydrated. Dehydration is detrimental to your athletic performance. If the moisture content in your body drops 1%, your physical capacity decreases 10%! These are the consequences of dehydration:
- Increased heart rate
- The effort seems heavier and you tire more quickly
- Poor regulation of body temperature
- Less good mental functions, which decreases your reaction time
These are the warning signs for dehydration:
- Thirst, dry or sticky mouth
- Fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Concentration disorders
- Impaired urine output
Don’t forget to drink!
Thirst is the main symptom. But it is actually not a good guideline for combatting dehydration. Once you get thirsty, it's already too late. Therefore, drink enough water before, during and after exercise. Before you start exercising, you anticipate the fluid loss that you will incur, during exercise you supplement the fluid loss due to perspiration, and then you keep drinking to avoid a fluid shortage.
For good hydration while running, it is best to drink about 100 to 150 ml (1 to 2 sips) of water or isotonic sports drink every 10 to 15 minutes. To prevent intestinal problems, it is best not to drink this ice cold.
The most important tip is: listen to your body and monitor your thirst. Don't overdo it because drinking too much can lead to hyperhydration, which can cause stomach problems, among other things.