We all know we should drink more to keep us hydrated, especially when we exercise, right? Apparently experts are now saying that this logic is wrong…very wrong in fact, as new research has shown.
The research, recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine says that when you exercise intensely, you should only drink water when you feel thirsty and not as a matter of course because you think you ought to. The advice is that you should listen to your body and drink water on an ‘as need basis’. Why? Over-hydrating can lead to a potentially deadly ‘water intoxication’ condition called Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (EAH)
Over hydration, particularly when exercising or playing sports in the heat, can increase the risk of seriously low levels of sodium in the blood – called Hyponatremia. Symptoms may appear mild at first, but progressively worsen.
Warning signs of EAH include headache, vomiting, confusion and seizures due to the brain swelling. It can potentially lead to cardiac arrest, circulatory collapse and death.
What happens in EAH?
Excessive intake of water, sports drinks or other fluids can exceed the body’s ability to get rid of fluids in sweat or urine. When the body can’t remove excess fluids, those fluids dilute the body’s sodium level, further loss through sweating or urinating can further deplete the overall levels.
According to the article, the safest individualised hydration strategy before, during and immediately following exercise is to drink fluids only when thirsty. The development of the new guidelines was prompted by the deaths of two high school American football players from exercise-associated hyponatremia last summer, the researchers said.
Dr. Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise science said, “Athletes and coaches must also be aware of the risks associated with “forced hydration” practices. Every single EAH death is tragic and preventable. If we just listen to our bodies and let go of the advice that if a little is good, more must be better.”
Ian’s note:- drinking isotonic drinks with the correct balance of added minerals (including sodium) should help counteract the risk of EAH. These drinks can be purchased ready to drink or by you adding a specific number of dissolvable tablets to a litre of water. Most high street chemists stock the dissolvable tablets.
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