In the summertime, most of us remember to drink plenty of water during outdoor activities. We’re often less mindful of hydration when summer fades to fall and the temperatures start to dip. However, an active body needs plenty of water in the fall season, too. Whether you’re playing a fall sport like football or soccer or preparing your yard for the wintertime, good hydration will help your body both move better and avoid injury.
Why hydration matters
More than half of the human body is made up of water, so it should come as no surprise that we need to drink plenty of fluids to stay healthy — especially during physical activity when we sweat more. Depending on the activity, weather, level of intensity, and other factors, a person can lose between 0.3 and 2.4 litres of sweat per hour.
Staying hydrated helps the body move more efficiently and improves athletic performance (it even reduces muscle soreness). It can also reduce risk of injuries related to dehydration, like heat injury and exercise-associated muscle cramps.
How much fluid do I need?
Most people need about two to three litres of fluids every day, but active people need more to replenish the sweat they lose during activity. To know if you’re drinking enough, weigh yourself just before and after you exercise (after emptying your bladder and removing sweaty clothing). If you lose more than 2% of your body weight, you’ll need to drink more. You can also tell if you’re drinking enough by checking the colour of your urine (healthy urine looks like lemonade, not apple juice).
Most of us will stay properly hydrated by listening to our bodies and drinking when we’re thirsty. It’s also important to drink throughout the day, rather than consuming a lot of water right before exercise. You can help your body stay hydrated by drinking more water than anything else, avoiding caffeinated drinks (which cause dehydration), and steering clear of sweet or carbonated drinks (which can upset the stomach and make it hard to drink enough to be hydrated).
Sports drinks (like Gatorade or Powerade) can be useful to people who exercise at a high-intensity, for more than an hour, or on hot days (even autumn can have some scorchers). Not only do these drinks provide fluids, but they replenish electrolytes lost to sweat and provide energy in the form of carbohydrates. These drinks can also be good for athletes who wear heavy sports equipment (like football or hockey gear) that can trap body heat and cause a person to sweat even more.
To learn more about staying hydrated this fall, chat with a Summit physiotherapist at your next appointment. New clients are always welcome and a doctor’s referral isn’t needed.