Hydration is just as important as food intake before and after exercise. Two hours before exercise, athletes should consume 16 ounces of water or a sports drink to help hydrate them ahead of time.

Thirty minutes before exercise, athletes should intake another eight ounces to prepare themselves for activity.

During activity, fluids should be available for athletes at all times. Because athletes are sweating out important fluids, they must replenish them by drinking eight ounces every 20 minutes. If players are engaging in short activity, of 30 seconds or less, they are at a high risk for dehydration because of the intensity of the work.

Long-term activity of 30 minutes or more requires periodic rehydration, such as the eight ounces every 20 minutes just suggested.

Use more electrolytes. If an activity lasts more than 40 minutes, water is not sufficient to rehydrate the body. The nutrient loss through sweat requires a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. With a higher sweat rate, typically – but not always – comes a higher electrolyte loss. If you fall into this category, there is not a sports drink on the market that will provide you the necessary electrolytes you need to replenish what you are losing. You should turn to using an electrolyte supplement (sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium) with your higher electrolyte-containing sports drink. Choose supplemental electrolytes that have at least 200 milligrams per serving and add it to you sports drink. If you decide to take it by itself, be sure to have at least 6 ounces of water handy to wash it down.

Many athletes will prefer not to drink during activity or will feel ill directly after intense exercise. All athletes must drink adequate liquids before, during, and after activity to avoid dehydration, which can lead to nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

After activity, athletes should continue to intake fluids.

At this point, fluids can be the normal amount the athlete would consume with a meal and through the rest of the day.

A total of 64 ounces of fluid is a minimum for athletes, though more is suggested. A good test of proper hydration is a urine test. Athletes should pass clear urine, not dark or with a restricted flow.

Encourage athletes to pay attention to their own needs, as all athletes will have slightly different needs. If an athlete feels uncomfortable, light-headed, or otherwise abnormal, they should come to you for counseling.

As fluid intake levels will change based on environmental effects, pay attention to the outside influences affecting fluid needs in athletes.

Proper hydration plays a very important role when it comes to sports performance as well as daily health.

The Institute of Medicine recommends:

* For Men: 3 liters or 13 cups a day
* For Women: 2.2 liters or 9 cups a day
* For Pregnant Women: 2.4 liters or 10 cups a day
* For Breast Feeding Women: 3.0 liters or 12.5 cups a day
* Exercise: an extra 1 to 2 cups
* Environment: Hot /Humid weather or Heated air, extra water
* Higher Altitudes:Increase urination and breathing, so water intake should increase
* Sickness: Vomiting, Diarrhea, bladder infections and Urinary Tract stones should also increase your water intake

The symptoms of dehydration include:

* Dry lips and tongue
* Weakness or lack of energy
* Muscle cramping
* Bright-colored or dark urine


Individuals who sweat profusely during exercise and whose sweat contains a high amount of sodium (you may notice salt stains/rings on your athletic wear) should choose sports drinks and ensure that their diet contains adequate sodium to prevent hyponatremia (water intoxication). It is easy to prevent dehydration with a variety of refreshing beverages, so drink up!

More Hydration Hints for Athletes

•Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
•Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
•Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.
Hint: Rehydration occurs faster in the presence of sodium, regardless of whether it is provided in a sports drink.

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