WATER - Exercise & Replacing Water
- Yes or No?

By: Michael O’Shea, Ph.D.

Water helps you stay hydrated during exercise, but it’s not the safest way to maintain the body’s fluid balance if you’re doing an endurance exercise that lasts longer than 90 minutes.

Drinking lots of water without adequately replacing the sodium you lose as you perspire may put you at risk for hyponatremia. This potentially fatal condition occurs when sodium levels in the blood drop because a large intake of water has diluted the blood.

“To stay hydrated and avoid hyponatremias, replace fluid at a rate to your sweat loss” says Dr. Francis G. O’Connor, co-author of Textbook of Running Medicine. “Drink 400ml [ 13.5 ounces ] to 800 ml [ 27 ounces ] of fluid for every hour you exercise. And switch to an electrolyte solution [ sports drink ] if the workout extended past as hour.” Sports drinks not only replace the body’s lost sodium but also maintains the blood’s electrolyte balance and provide fuel for hard working muscles.

“Long distance runners, especially those who run a marathon in four or more hours, should be aware of hyponatremia,” says Barbara Baldwin, program director for the American Running Association. “Symptoms include, but are not limited to, confusion, dizziness, nausea, severe fatigue, lack of coordination, swollen hands and feet, and severe headache.”

Michael O’Shea, Ph.D., is a fellow of the
American College of Sports Medicine

Questions: Exercise or health?

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