When engaging in physical activity, performance sometimes takes precedence over safety. While many of us understand the need to stay hydrated and have heard the term electrolytes, few people know just how important they are. This season, maximize your play and ensure you don’t sideline yourself with these pro-hydration exercise tips:
- Did you know that after four per cent of dehydration your performance decreases? A state of four per cent dehydration will occur at different times for individuals depending on factors such as weight and level of hydration when beginning an activity. Dehydration reduces endurance by increasing body temperature, heart rate and perceived exertion.
- There is a direct correlation between muscle cramps and dehydration. Muscle cramps are caused by depleted levels of minerals in muscle tissue. Continuously replenishing electrolytes with electrolyte-enriched fluids while exercising will prevent an imbalance that causes your muscles to cramp up.
- An electrolyte beverage is recommended – electrolytes are also lost through sweat when exercising and are imperative in preventing dehydration. Electrolytes help maintain a healthy fluid balance in the body by controlling the flow of fluids into and out of cells. Electrolytes also maintain the acidity of the blood (pH) within a normal range.
- Re-hydrate as needed throughout exercise – a positive notion is to replace thirst as your body demands it.
- Plain water dilutes electrolytes and can create a state of hyper-hydration. Hyper-hydration is the over-consumption of water and can happen during intense exercise when a lot of water is consumed, but electrolytes are not replenished.
- Working out while you’re sick? If illness causes symptoms above the neck, then exercising can be considered. However, you shouldn’t exercise if you have body-wide flu-like symptoms – your immune system is compromised and exercising can further wear it down.
- For those who run outside – research shows vitamin C helps neutralize the effects of pollution.
- Listen to your body. If you’re having trouble breathing or you feel pain, immediately discontinue any activity you are doing.
Dr. Michael Clarfield is the Director of The Sports Medicine Specialist Clinic. He was the first physician to practice full time Sports Medicine in Toronto. He is an Associate Professor at The University of Toronto and currently the Company Physician for The National Ballet of Canada and Team Physician for The Canadian National Tennis Team.