Water and Sport

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Efficient dehydration in sport is critical in order to produce optimum performance. By drinking water in correct quantities before, during and after sport can help minimize and delay dehydration allowing us to perform at peak levels and recover more quickly. Optimum fluid levels promote muscle contraction and faster transmission of nerve impulses it also promotes generation of energy in the brain allowing us to think faster and better in order to respond more rapidly to the stimuli that we are presented with in our sports.

The volume and concentration of blood is vital in the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles and depletion of waste products. Without efficient dehydration blood concentration increases making the speed of blood flow decrease, which means delayed delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. With a delay in transportation and decrease in blood flow speed it becomes more difficult for waste products to be flushed out which is when lactic acid begins to amass in muscles causing pain, cramp and fatigue. Dehydration also means a decrease in electrolytes, which includes calcium and sodium.

Calcium is required for muscle contraction and with absence of calcium it gradually becomes more and more difficult for the athlete to perform the techniques and skills in the manner in which they need too. Sodium also promotes absorption of water alongside glucose so with lack of sodium it is more difficult for fluids to be absorbed and utilized. Dehydration also means a more difficult pathway for nerve impulses and a decrease in energy generation in the brain, which means it, is more difficult for us to concentrate and react both physically and mentally.

The first sign of dehydration is thirst, but by the time we are thirsty we are already mildly dehydrated, however this will already have caused a significant affect on performance as when only 2% dehydrated performance begins to be impaired. Water is easily lost in sport as we are dehydrated at even one percent and if most training sessions or competitive games last from one hour onwards it is not difficult to become dehydrated. The main cause of dehydration in sport is sweating and if we play a football match lasting 90 minutes involving constant movement between trotting, walking and sprinting then we will most definitely sweat. The more we sweat the more fluids we must replace in order to prevent dehydration. It is recommended that we sip water continuously throughout exercise rather than drink huge quantities at several periods of time; otherwise we will suffer water imbalance causing bloating in the abdominal area. Isotonic sports drinks are also recommended in order to replace not only lost fluids but also electrolytes and energy production promoting carbohydrates.

So it is vital that we remain efficiently dehydrated in sport otherwise our performance will decrease both physically and mentally. Whereas if we manage to remain hydrated we can perform to our peak levels both mentally and physically. Electrolytes Electrolytes are elements or chemicals required in order to enable the body and heart to function properly. The main electrolytes are sodium, chloride and potassium. Each of these electrolytes plays key role in the body especially in temperature and fluid regulation.

Electrolytes are particularly important as they maintain voltage across cell membranes especially nerve and heart, carrying electrical impulses for muscle contractions etc, from one cell to another. To do so the kidneys maintain levels of electrolytes in the blood at a constant despite the changes that may occur for example during exercise. During exercise or sport as our muscles contract constantly heat is produced therefore causing sweating which in turn means a loss of electrolytes, these electrolytes must then be replaced in order for the body to function correctly.

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