How important is hydration for sports performance? Find out the answer as we explore the relationship between hydration and sports performance.
Drinking water is important for many reasons, but it is just as important when you are participating in a sporting event or even just a daily workout. There are two main reasons why one should drink water while playing sports: to stay hydrated and to replace electrolytes which can be lost through sweat. When athletes become dehydrated during a game or event, their performance will naturally drop.
The same applies for electrolytes; so drinking something with electrolytes in it (sports drinks and energy gels usually have them already) before you play or train will help keep your concentration up and your energy levels higher than if they were not being replaced as they are lost through sweat loss.
Drinking enough water each day is crucial for daily life, not just sport: to help regulate our body temperature, keep joints lubricated, fight infections, deliver essential nutrients around the body, and keep our organs functioning properly. Staying on top of your hydration also contributes to better sleep quality, focus, energy and mood.
We should aim for between 6-8 glasses (200ml per glass) of water every day, but let’s not forget that this will naturally increase if we are participating in physical activity of any kind.
The most important glass of water to remember is the one you should drink when you first get up in the morning. Your body has just slept for 6-8 hours, and will be dehydrated, so drinking a glass of water will kick-start your body & mind, 7 set you up for the day ahead.
Here are just 7 ways that water helps you improve your health and wellbeing that you may not have considered before:
1. It prevents overall dehydration
We all know about dehydration, but do we fully appreciate how easy it is to be mildly dehydrated and what that can mean for our bodies.
Early symptoms of dehydration can include - feeling thirsty, dark yellow and strong-smelling urine, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feeling tired, a dry mouth, only urinating a little each time and fewer than 4 times a day.
If you’re not drinking enough to start with, dehydration can also be accelerated by – diabetes, vomiting or diarrhea, being in the sun too long (heatstroke), drinking too much alcohol, sweating too much after exercising, a high temperature of 38C or more, taking medicines that make you pee more (diuretics).
Put simply, dehydration is when we drink less water than our body uses or loses. The current guidelines suggest that the average adult should drink 2 litres of water per day, which is about 8 medium glasses of water.
Don’t forget that it’s not just water, but coffee or tea and water-rich foods can help maintain your body’s fluid balance.
2. It helps maximise physical performance
It’s estimated that we can sweat up to 6-10% of our body weight during intense or prolonged periods of exercise. It is therefore essential that we drink plenty of water, as dehydration can affect our strength, power, and endurance.
A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight can cause a noticeable decrease in physical and mental performance, so we need to continually hydrate before, during and after exercise.
By adding carbohydrate and electrolytes to our water, as in a sports drink or energy gel, performance can be enhanced, especially in high intensity and endurance sports like, running, cycling and swimming.
3. It helps you lose weight
Water may be able to help us lose weight in a number of ways.
It has been shown that drinking water helps boost your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories. The research also suggests that drinking ice cold water burns more calories and warm water.
Water can also act as an appetite suppressant, therefore drinking it before meals can make you feel fuller and reducing the amount of food you eat. A daily reduction of 200-500 calories is all you need to lose weight.
4. It helps boost energy
While water itself has zero calories, therefore it isn’t going to increase your energy by providing your body with fuel, what water does is it allows the body to function, both physically and mentally.
Next time you feel that mid-afternoon slump hitting, try drinking about 300ml of ice-cold water. You should notice it pass and you’ll be ready to go again!
5. It aids in cognitive function
Cognitive functions have been shown to improve dramatically, simply by drinking 200 to 650ml of water. One of the most noticeable effects that dehydration can have, is poor short term memory.
Drinking water has been shown to increase subjective happiness, memory, motor skills and visual attention.
6. It helps improve mood
A research study of 52 young adults found that after only 3 days of drinking less than 1.2L of water per day, there was an overall decrease in contentedness, calmness and positive emotions recorded by the group.
The average mug of tea is 300 to 350ml, so drinking less than 4 mugs of water in a day could lead to you feeling grumpy and confused.
7. It aids in digestion and nutrient absorption
Drinking water regularly will help your body breakdown the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest the food more effectively and get the most out of your meals. As well as helping to breakdown your food, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and then it delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body.
Keeping an eye on your hydration throughout the day is just as important as your nutrition to fuel your body before, during and after exercise, and for the rest of your busy day too! And the best thing is… it’s a really simple but effective healthy habit that we can all master that will have a massive impact on our overall health and wellness. Who doesn’t want that?
Thanks for reading! As always, leave us a comment down below if you found this helpful or if you have any questions for us. Make sure to share this with someone who you know will benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other!