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Staying hydrated can help you perform at your highest levels since intense movement causes you to sweat.

When you’re at play, you need to sweat. It helps your body stay cool. But, when you sweat, you lose sodium chloride and potassium as well as water from throughout your whole body. That includes your blood, heart and entire cardiovascular system.

If you are even mildly dehydrated, you strain these body parts causing your heart rate to rise. This limits your body’s ability to transfer heat from the muscles to the skin surface where heat can escape.

Sweat rates vary from 0.5-3.7 liters/hour, depending on exercise intensity, weather conditions, clothing, ability to acclimate to high temperatures and individual factors for each athlete. Everyone sweats differently, so it’s hard to say exactly how much fluid you need to replenish your body.

Tips to Stay Hydrated

Even though there’s no exact formula for how much fluid you need before and during an athletic event, there are easy ways to help stay hydrated. Jonathan Chappell, MD, a sports medicine expert with Wake Orthopaedics offers these simple solutions to stay hydrated.

  • 24 hours before: Drink adequate fluids for 24 hours before your sporting event. Your urine should be light colored to almost clear. If you urinate every 45 minutes (or more frequently), back off the fluids. You may be drinking too much.
  • 2 hours before: Drink 10-17 ounces of fluids two hours before your athletic event.
  • During practice and warm up: Drink regularly
  • During the event: Try to drink fluids at a rate that matches your sweat loss.

Idealy, fluids should be kepts at a cool temperature, between 59 to 72 degrees.

To see how well you’ve kept hydrated, you can weigh yourself before and after an athletic event. Weight loss will correlate to lost body water. Each lost pound should be replaced with 16-24 ounces of fluids.

Hydration Choices

If you're working out for an hour or less, drink water throughout your workout.

If you're working out for longer than an hour, the ideal fluid is a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink or sports drink. These drinks replace fluids lost from sweating as well as provide carbohydrate fuel.

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