Hydration Science for Runners: Why Athlete Hydration Is so Important
Our bodies are made up of 70 percent water, making it critical to life. That's why dehydration, which occurs when the body rids itself of more water than it takes in, is a condition we all need to be aware of - particularly athletes, who perspire frequently and are therefore particularly susceptible. Taking a look at the science behind hydration can help us to better understand why athlete hydration levels are so important.
- Digestion: Water is required to digest food, from the saliva needed to moisten food as you chew to gastric secretions necessary for digestion, as well as to transport nutrients from the food to your blood cells and discard the waste through urine. Hydration also helps to dissipate the heat from your food through sweat.
- Teeth and bones: Water makes your teeth and bones stronger. The additional fluoride added to the water supply provides extra strength and density to teeth and bones.
- Organs: A lack of hydration results in decreased efficiency of the organs, specifically the kidneys, which then offsets some of their duties to other organs. When the kidneys aren't functioning at their fullest, the liver takes over, and is less able to metabolize stored fat into usable energy. This results in less stored fat being burned and subsequent weight gain.
- Disease: Proper water intake can significantly reduce the risk of disease, including colon and bladder cancer. It is also believed that proper water intake prevents kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Why is Athlete Hydration so Important?
- Aid Muscles: The muscles are made up of about 73 percent water, depending on your body type and gender. When athletes are not consuming enough water for their output levels, they can experience muscle-growth impairment and muscle cramps. Because your body needs water in order to move and flex, your muscles will be deprived of electrolytes and cramp when dehydrated. Without the proper hydration and electrolyte balance, your muscle strength and control will be impaired.
- Protect Joints: As an athlete, the frequent stress placed on your joints can become problematic if you fail to remain hydrated. Sufficient hydration is extremely important for the joints in producing synovial fluid, which is their main protection system.
- Reduce Fatigue: While water does not stimulate energy in the body the same way that intaking fat or carbohydrates would, it is extremely important for the transmittance of energy. Since water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place, your energy levels will suffer if you become dehydrated, leading to lethargy and weakened endurance and performance.
Staying Hydrated During a Race
When it comes to racing, with all the planning and prep work, there is nothing worse than exhausting yourself in the first 100 metres. As such, you want to ensure you properly prepare for your hydration, as well.
We know that racers should have 1,500 mg of electrolytes the day before the race as well as the morning of but, during the actual race, each racer will require a different amount. Precision Hydration is a wonderful tool that hydrates faster than water alone; take the Precision Hydration Sweat Test to determine the perfect water/electrolyte athlete hydration formula for your body type and activity level.
Sprint athletes are generally less concerned about the effects of dehydration than are endurance athletes. However, the capacity to perform high-intensity exercise, which results in exhaustion within a few minutes, is reduced by as much as 45 percent by prior dehydration corresponding to a loss of only 2.5 percent of body weight. – Sport Nutrition, Second Edition
Hydration is one of the most important factors for your health and overall athletic performance. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated, especially if you are an athlete. Shop our hydration section to get your water and electrolyte levels in check today!