In the midst of a strenuous exercise session, it is natural to grab the nearest bottle of water when thirsty. While this might help you feel rehydrated, it actually won’t give your body what it needs to recover after being physically tested. Whether you are training for a marathon or about to enter a professional tournament, be aware of your body’s physical requirements and hydrate yourself in the proper manner.
A Lengthy Exercise Session
The truth is that water will only give your body what it needs within the first hour of exercise. If your training session, competition or tournament lasts longer than that, your body will lose more fluids and essential nutrients than drinking plain water can replace.
If you exert yourself for longer than 60 minutes, you will need some other form of beverage to properly replenish what your body has lost. High energy electrolyte sports drinks are the best choice here as they will boost your physical performance while providing you with substances like sodium and potassium that aid hydration.
The Science of Salt
You might know sodium from another common substance: table salt. While it might seem counterintuitive that salts can help with hydration, this is backed up by scientific research which says that salt helps athletes rehydrate faster. This is the main reason why water isn’t as effective with hydration especially after a lengthy exercise session longer than 60 minutes. On the other hand, a sports drink loaded with electrolytes will help by:
- Making you want to drink more. Your brain has a small section called the hypothalamus which checks your blood electrolyte levels and makes you thirsty if they are too low. Plain water overrides this reaction and can stop you drinking before you’re fully hydrated.
- Encouraging your body to retain fluid. Drinking normal water means your bodies will want to urinate soon afterwards which increases fluid loss. By adding salt to the beverage, your kidneys will retain liquid for longer which then assists with rehydration.
If you are about to commence a rigorous training routine or enter into a long distance running or bicycle race, remember that water will be ineffective after 60 minutes. To fully prepare for this strenuous exercise, pack some high energy sports drinks containing useful electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. You will feel much more hydrated and ready to perform your personal best on the big day.