Studies show that lack of fluids reduce athletic ability

LSU AgCenter News
July 19, 2007 at 10:56 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Athletes need adequate fluids for optimal physical performance. Dehydration impairs performance by causing cramps, weakness and headache.

Dehydration can lead to higher core body temperature, which increases strain on the cardiovascular system. Untreated, dehydration can cause heat stroke.

LSU Agricultural Center nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames offers several tips to for proper hydration:

• Drink before, during and after practices and games.

•Drink early; by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

•Include liquids with the pre-competition meal.

•Drink fluids based on the amount of sweat and urine loss during the activity.

And the American Dietetic Association suggests the following guidelines for fluid replacement:

•About two hours before exercise or competition, athletes should drink about 2 cups of fluid.

•During exercise, athletes should start drinking early and drink regularly to replace water lost during sweating; that is, 1/2 to 1 cup, fluids every 15 to 20 minutes.

•After exercising, drink at least 2 cups of fluid per pound of body weight lost during exercise. Foods eaten after the event are usually sufficient to replace sodium.

The risks of dehydration and heat injury increase dramatically in hot, humid weather. If athletes compete under these conditions, every precaution should be taken to assure they are well hydrated, have ample access to fluids and are monitored for heat-related illness.

Even when water and sports drinks are available, some kids don’t take advantage of them. Findings from a study presented at a recent American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, showed that kids at a sports camp were not properly hydrated, even when water and sports drinks were accessible and coaches encouraged routine drink breaks during activity.

For related nutrition topics, click on the Food and Health link on the LSU AgCenter homepage at For local information and educational programs, contact an agent in your parish.

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