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Hydrate Right

(Excerpt taken from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: www.eatright.org)

Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of healthy physical activity. Drinking the right amount of fluids before, during and after every physical activity is vital to providing your body the fluids it needs to perform properly. Sports dietitians assist athletes by developing individualized hydration plans that enhance performance in training and competition while minimizing risks for dehydration, over-hydration, and heat illness and injury.

Hydration Goal

The overall goal is to minimize dehydration without over-drinking. Adequate hydration varies among individuals. Practical ways to monitor hydration are:

Urine color The color of the first morning's urine void after awakening is an overall indicator of hydration status. Straw or lemonade colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration. Dark colored urine, the color of apple juice, indicates dehydration. Dark urine is often produced soon after consuming vitamin supplements. Sweat loss

Change in body weight before and after exercise is used to estimate sweat loss. Since an athlete's sweat loss during exercise is an indicator of hydration status, athletes are advised to follow customized fluid replacement plans that consider thirst, urine color, fluid intake, sweat loss and body weight changes that occur during exercise.

Minimize Dehydration

Dehydration can occur in virtually every physical activity scenario. It doesn't have to be hot. You don't have to have visible perspiration. You can become dehydrated in the water, at a pool or lake, or skiing on a winter day.

Dehydration results when athletes fail to adequately replace fluid lost through sweating. Since dehydration that exceeds 2 percent body weight loss harms exercise performance, athletes are advised to begin exercise well hydrated, minimize dehydration during exercise and replace fluid losses after exercise.

Be alert for conditions that increase your fluid loss through sweat.

Remember swimmers sweat, too. Like any athletic activity, when you swim, your body temperature rises and your body sweats to keep from overheating. You may not notice because you are in the water, but you can become dehydrated. Swimmers, from competitive athletes to families splashing around, need to drink fluids before, during and after swimming, even if you don't feel thirsty.

Warning Signs

Know the signs of dehydration. Early signs are:

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