5680819968 2648a7762c z The health of the adventurer: Thirst and Hydration

As every Thursday comes the moment of The adventurers health. This section counts on the signature of the professionals of Activa Mente, specialists in exercise for the health. Today we will talk about a fundamental theme in any physical activity.

Thirst and Hydration

In this new article we will address thirst and hydration, a subject very in line with summer temperatures and mountain routes. Surely, you have wondered what is better to drink when the thirst tightens, is the water alone or would have to drink some other type of drink?

Why are we thirsty? Thirst is a body mechanism to warn us that we need to ingest liquid and is activated by various causes (dry mouth, accumulation of sugars or salts in blood …). We lose fluids mainly through urine, sweat, respiration and feces. When we do physical activity or moderate or intense physical exercise, perspiration is the major source of fluid loss, and with it we not only lose water, but also, electrolytes.

Electrolytes are substances that are dissolved in body fluids: potassium, sodium, calcium, chlorine, phosphate, sodium bicarbonate and magnesium. This sweating increases if we add certain conditions like the sun, high temperatures, type of clothing that is being used, sports equipment that increase our caloric expenditure, etc.

If we talk in terms of performance, the main goal of hydration is to avoid the increase in body temperature and maintain optimum levels of electrolytes and water. If we do not replenish these levels, we speak of a dehydration that can compromise performance in the activity to be performed, and even, the health of the person.


Below we will offer you some general recommendations on how to hydrate taking into account that we will perform physical activity or moderate or intense and lasting exercise.

Previous to the workout: It is advisable to hydrate 2 to 4 hours before, drinking in small amounts. An indicator that can tell us if we are sufficiently hydrated is urine, which should not be dark or highly concentrated. Consuming drinks with sodium and / or small amounts of food or salty snacks will help stimulate the thirst signal and then retain the ingested fluids. Good hydration before making the effort prevents a rapid increase in body temperature and, therefore, be able to withstand more in our activity.

During workout: Our goal is to prevent water loss below 2%, as it will cause discomfort, dry mouth and ultimately a decrease in performance. If we are already on our walk or bike route, we must drink in small amounts without waiting to be thirsty, especially in efforts of three hours or more. There is no general agreement on how much to drink, since it will depend, among others, on external factors such as the type of exercise, the duration of the exercise, the clothes and equipment to be used, climatic conditions … and other individual factors such as genetic predisposition , Personal metabolic requirements, acclimatization to heat and physical form (link to physical preparation). The latest research suggests that about 150% of the lost fluid needs to be replenished, but salts (sodium and potassium) must be ingested to prevent hydroelectrolytic disorders such as hypervolemia (abnormal increase in blood volume).

After workout: The goal is to replenish fluid and electrolyte deficits. Ingestion of water and salts will depend on what we have lost; That is to say, that pre-hydration and hydration during exercise will be very important. If both have been correct, sports drinks containing salts and some carbohydrates would be perfect. We can also find fluids and gels containing these substances.

Regarding what to drink, since it is already clear that sweat not only lost water, but also mineral salts (such as sodium or potassium) ideally take drinks that contain and provide us with energy from carbohydrates. In the market, you will find several brands with such contents; However, not all contain the same amount of salts. In this regard, the studies suggest that they hydrate better those with a greater content of them. If we compare them with water alone, this would be insufficient if we want a complete hydration when performing our activity.


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