Hydration Drinks Sports Drinks And Electrolytes

Proper hydration for sports, workouts and periods of intense physical activity can help keep athletes focused and performing at peak condition. Hydration also aids the flow of nutrients to cells and facilitates the transfer of vital chemical signals across the barriers between nerve cells and muscle cells. Adequate water hydration and a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes help us perform at our best.

Electrolytes and Hydration for Sports

Are hydration drinks and sports drinks really necessary, or can water alone provide all the hydration we need? The answer appears to depend on the level of sustained endurance the activity requires, rather than on any special ingredients found in commercially manufactured sports drinks.

Sports that involve short bursts of activity, or activity that lasts for about 60 minutes or less, do not usually require any special hydration procedures that can’t be fulfilled by adequate water intake. During these kinds of activities, the fluid loss that takes place though sweat and respiration can be replaced by water hydration without any negative change in performance.

However, endurance athletes who engage in intense periods of sustained activity lasting longer than two hours need to carefully consider their hydration and intake of electrolytes. Athletes who run or cycle for hours at a time lose large quantities of fluid, especially during hot weather. Drinking only water to replace this lost fluid can present problems, since plain water can dilute the sodium and other minerals in the bloodstream.

In fact, too much plain water consumed after the first two hours of intense activity can actually lead to cramping and a condition known as “hyponatremia,” an abnormally low blood level of sodium. In extreme cases, this may even lead to water toxicity, which can be deadly.

Marathon runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes can avoid these problems by making sure that water consumption stays between 17 and 25 ounces per hour and is matched by an adequate intake of potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium, which are often referred to collectively as “electrolytes.” Sports drinks and hydration drinks like Gatorade