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Originally published November 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Page modified November 2, 2012 at 12:31 PM

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Down the hatch with water; it's so good for you

Once we get dehydrated, blood volume drops and our heart has to work harder, increasing our heart rate.

Special to The Seattle Times

What else you should know

For more tips on hydration, check out the Centers for Disease Control website: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html

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HYDRATING IS serious business if your business is soccer. If you are a player for the Seattle Sounders, coaches monitor you for signs of dehydration and plan out various water and electrolyte combinations on game day.

Very few of us are Seattle Sounders. But their coaches were still willing to give us plebeians some advice when it comes to hydration.

"There's no magic formula other than being smart," says Dave Tenney, the Sounders' head fitness coach.

Smart means drinking enough fluids through the day, which can be challenging to remember in the Pacific Northwest. We relish our temperate summers, but without heat or humidity, people often forget to drink on a warm summer day, he says.

Once we get dehydrated, blood volume drops and our heart has to work harder, increasing our heart rate. It's a big deal for athletes when it comes to performance and how much energy they have to put out to do the same activity.

Dehydration can cause big drop-offs in performance, Tenney says. If a player has an elevated heart rate, coaches look at hydration as a potential cause.

But hydration is critical for all of us. Our bodies are 75 percent water, which helps regulate our body temperature, cushions our joints, protects our spine and other tissues, helps us digest food and gets rid of bodily waste, according to the American Council on Fitness.

To stay properly hydrated, Tenney recommends a few steps throughout the day:

• Drink 12 to 16 ounces right when you get up to make up for water lost overnight.

• Drink an 8- to 12-ounce glass of water at every meal, during exercise and before you go to bed.

• If you are very active for more than 45 minutes, add some electrolytes in a sports drink.

Tenney knows that if a player is cramping on the field, a sign of dehydration, there is a bigger issue of how the player is hydrating outside of practice or a game. Some leagues have their players take hydration tests.

But most of it is common sense, Tenney says.

If you are dying to know exactly how the Sounders hydrate — keeping in mind that they work way, way, way harder than most of us ever will — the coaches have them drink water and electrolytes with minimal sugar or carbs before the game to prevent sugar crashes during the game. Once they start burning energy in the game, they supplement with sports drinks to maintain energy.

But when it comes down to it, there's no need to go crazy with water. Hydration is a lifestyle. Drink water regularly, add electrolytes if exercising and sweating for extended periods of time, and I have a feeling you will be dandy.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com.

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