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Staying Hydrated: Why It Matters and How to Do It

Proper hydration is essential for our overall health and well-being. Learn how to stay hydrated amidst Hong Kong's humid weather.

Staying Hydrated

When we exercise, we lose water through sweat and respiration, which can lead to dehydration. In Hong Kong's hot and humid climate, the risk of dehydration is even higher. In this article, we'll discuss the importance of staying hydrated, how to measure sweat losses, and practical tips for staying hydrated during and after exercise.


Why Hydration Matters


Hydration levels refer to the amount of water content in our body. When we're dehydrated, our performance and cognitive function can suffer, and we may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. Training in a dehydrated state can also have adverse effects on our cardiovascular function, cause heat strain, and reduce our ability to sustain activity. Therefore, it's crucial to monitor our water balance and ensure sufficient fluid intake to replace the water we lose during exercise.


Measuring Sweat Loss


To determine the amount of fluid we need to replace our sweat losses, we can use a simple equation: (Body Mass Pre – Body Mass Post) + (Fluid) – (Urine). Measuring our body weight before and after exercise can help us estimate our sweat losses and determine how much fluid we need to drink to rehydrate. It's recommended to drink 150-200% of fluid losses and include ~6mmol of sodium to ensure our net fluid balance and plasma osmolality return to a homeostatic state.


Practical Tips For Staying Hydrated


During exercise, it's essential to drink fluids that contain electrolytes such as sodium to ensure optimum plasma electrolyte levels. Intra and post-exercise drinks containing 20-50mmol/l sodium can help maintain hydration levels. Drinks that combine carbohydrates and electrolytes can also slow down the absorption of fluid and reduce gastrointestinal distress from ingesting too much water too quickly. Therefore, it's recommended to drink fluids that are suitable for your body and training needs.


Training the gut to tolerate fluid intake is also an important practical recommendation for athletes. It's best to start with smaller amounts of fluid during exercise and gradually increase the amount over time. It's essential to avoid over-drinking when dehydrated to prevent gut distress or bloated feelings when exercising.


Incorporating Hydration into Daily Life


It's not just during exercise that we need to stay hydrated. Drinking little and often throughout the day is essential for optimal cognitive function and the ability to work effectively. It's recommended to keep a water bottle with you throughout the day to remind you to drink regularly. In Hong Kong's busy lifestyle, it's easy to stray away from the adequate levels of hydration required to function optimally.


Conclusion


Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for our overall health and well-being. By understanding the importance of hydration, measuring sweat losses, and implementing practical tips, we can stay hydrated and perform at our best during exercise and daily life. Remember to drink fluids that are suitable for your body and training needs, and train your gut to tolerate fluid intake gradually. By incorporating hydration into your daily routine, you'll feel better, work more effectively, and perform at your best.


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