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Hydration - Man drinking after a run

Hydration and Exercise: The Basics You Need to Know

As a coach, I am often asked by my athletes about the importance of proper hydration and how it affects their performance. And let me tell you, hydration is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to peak performance. Proper hydration is essential for optimal performance and recovery, and dehydration can seriously hinder your performance, and even lead to illness or injury. So, let’s dive into the basics of hydration and exercise, and what you need to know to keep yourself hydrated and performing at your best.

The Physiology of Hydration

When you drink fluids, they are absorbed through the small intestine and into the bloodstream. Electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, help transport water through the small intestine and into the bloodstream, where it is transported to working muscles. Glucose, a type of sugar, also plays a role in hydration by helping the body absorb water more efficiently. The concentration of electrolytes and glucose in the body can affect the rate at which water is absorbed and can impact the body’s fluid balance and hydration status.

Dehydration and Exercise Performance

Dehydration can have a serious impact on exercise performance. Even mild dehydration (as little as 2% of body weight) can cause fatigue, reduce endurance, and impair cognitive function. When you become dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to working muscles, which can lead to an increased heart rate and decreased cardiac output. Dehydration can also lead to an increase in core body temperature, which can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The Role of Total Hemoglobin (ThB)

Total Hemoglobin (ThB) is a measure of the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood, and it can provide important insights into hydration status. When you are dehydrated, the concentration of hemoglobin in the blood increases, which can lead to an increase in ThB. This can make it more difficult for the body to transport oxygen to working muscles, which can lead to decreased endurance and performance. Monitoring ThB levels during exercise can be especially helpful for athletes. By tracking changes in ThB with a non-invasive wearable device like the Moxy Monitor, athletes can gain real-time feedback on their hydration status and make informed decisions about their fluid intake. The Moxy Monitor uses near-infrared spectroscopy to measure oxygenation levels in the muscles and provide insight into ThB levels, allowing athletes to optimize their hydration strategies and improve their performance.

How to Stay Hydrated

So, how do you stay hydrated during exercise? The answer is simple: drink fluids regularly! It is recommended that you consume 17-20 ounces of fluid 2-3 hours before exercise, and then continue to drink fluids throughout your workout. In addition, monitoring your urine color is a helpful way to determine your hydration status. Clear or light yellow urine generally indicates adequate hydration, while dark yellow urine indicates dehydration.

Electrolytes and Carbohydrates

Electrolytes and carbohydrates can also play a role in hydration during exercise. Electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, help regulate fluid balance in the body and can be lost through sweat. Consuming fluids or foods that contain electrolytes can help replenish these important minerals and maintain proper fluid balance. Carbohydrates, such as glucose, can also help the body absorb water more efficiently, and can provide fuel for working muscles during exercise.

Listen to Your Body

Remember, everyone’s hydration needs are unique, and may vary depending on factors such as body weight, activity level, and environmental conditions. It is important to listen to your body and adjust your hydration and fueling strategies accordingly. With proper hydration and fueling, you can perform at your best and achieve your goals. So, keep your fluids up, my friends! Your body will thank you for it.