Fit and fab

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

While everyone enjoys getting outdoors for physical activity, it is important to plan accordingly. Proper hydration before, during and after exercise is critical to your health. One common mistake people make is assuming thirst is the best indicator of dehydration.

In reality, you become dehydrated prior to becoming thirsty. To track your own hydration, simply observe urine color when using the bathroom. Someone with adequate hydration produces urine the color of pale lemonade and one with dehydration produces urine similar to the appearance of apple juice.

Signs of dehydration may include: dark urine, flushed skin, fatigue, lightheadedness, loss of appetite and headaches. If you enjoy cycling, running, rollerblading, power walking, swimming or other outdoor forms of exercises you need to stay hydrated to promote optimal health. Aside from hydration, water also aids in digestion of foods, transports oxygen and glucose to the muscles and regulates body temperature.

So how do you ensure proper hydration? Below are a few key tips to safeguard you:

  • Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Aim to drink roughly half your body weight in ounces of water each day or no less than 64 ounces per day.
  • For every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, replenish with about 8 ounces of water.
  • Choose water after exercise unless you are working at or beyond 90 minutes, in which case an electrolyte replacement drink may be indicated (Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.)

After a workout, it is also important to consume carbohydrates and protein within 30-60 minutes to optimize muscle recovery and replenish glucose lost during the exercise bout. In most cases, experts recommend between a 2:1 and 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

Moving forward, pay close attention to your fatigue during workouts as it may be linked directly to your hydration. If you are not a fan of plain water, you may seek out flavored water. However, be cautious if you are watching your waistline as these drinks also contain sugar and you may want to limit excess sugar intake as these become empty calories in the body.

Hydration and fueling tips for competitive athletes:

Most kids detest water. They opt to drink it during practices or games, but often do not seek it out during the course of their normal day. How important is hydration for young athletes? It is critical to preventing heat related illness, cramps and poor performance.

Keep in mind most athletes fail to report fatigue or dehydration related symptoms until they are far along in the process. Therefore, it is necessary to educate them along with coaches about pre-planning and consistent tracking to prevent large fluid loss.

The following facts and guidelines for competitive athletes are from Fuel Like a Champion:

  • Athletes should weigh pre and post training to determine body weight change.
  • Losses during this time are fluid losses, not body fat.
  • 1-2-percent body weight loss (~1.5 lbs in a 150 lb athlete) can negatively affect physical performance.
  • 2-4-percent loss of body weight can impair mental and physical performance.
  • Greater than 6-percent body weight loss is dangerous and can lead to heat stroke which needlessly takes the young lives of athletes every year in the U.S.

Fluid fueling suggestions:

  • Drink 16 oz. (2 cups) of fluid 2 hours before practice or game.
  • Drink 8 oz. (1 cup) of fluid 10-20 minutes before practice or game. (In very hot or very cold weather you need 12-20 oz 10-20 minutes prior to practice or game).
  • Drink 7-10 oz. every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
  • After practice or game drink 20 oz. for every pound of weight lost. Ideally, complete rehydration within two hours of exercise.
  • At least, on occasion, weigh yourself before and after your practice/competition to see how many pounds you are typically losing so you can plan your hydration plan appropriately.

So, educate your children about the necessity of proper hydration and fueling for sport. If they like sports drinks, it is best to seek ones that taste good and contain roughly 6-8-percent carbohydrate concentrations as drinks with too much sugar (soda and orange juice for example) delay absorption and may negatively impact performance.

Brian Schiff, owner of Fitness Edge, is a nationally known sports and fitness training expert, specializing in injury prevention and return to play for professional and amateur athletes of all ages. Fitness Edge now offers Adventure Boot Camp for Women in Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington and Grove City.