The human body is made up of 50- 70% water. This water is lost throughout the day through perspiration, breathing, urination and defecation. Water has many functions within the body including regulating temperature, transportation of nutrients and compounds in blood, removing waste products through urination and aiding in joint lubrication and shock absorption. It is vital that we replace this water, or our bodies will start to function less effectively.
Dancers and performers, as active people, need to take in more water than most throughout their day as more is lost during exercise when you perspire/ sweat as it is the body’s cooling process.
We start to sweat as the body becomes warmer during physical, so in order to maintain the bodies hydration levels, we need to replenish the lost water. If we don’t we could potentially become dehydrated, which can be very dangerous.
Dehydration is the word for excessive loss of water from the body. A deficit of only 2% or more is considered to be dehydration, which isn’t much at all. Many people suffer various signs of dehydration due to not drinking enough fluid in their day, some of these signs are not commonly thought of as being related to dehydration.
Short term effects of dehydration include:
• Dry mouth, lips or eyes
• Lack of concentration
• Pain when urinating
If left untreated and more fluid is not taken in, dehydration can become severe. Severe dehydration is considered to be a medical emergency and requires medical attention as it can be life threatening.
Signs of severe dehydration include:
• Lethargy/ tiredness or confusion
• Not passing urine for eight hours
• Weak pulse
• Rapid pulse
• Fits/ seizures
• Low level of consciousness
How do you know if you are hydrated?
The Wee chart! Or more sensibly known as the urine chart is a colour chart with which we can check our urine for signs of dehydration…
How to stay hydrated
The recommendation is for adults to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of fluid (e.g. water, squash and fruit juice) every day, however for dancers and active performers this is actually a minimum of 12 cups of water a day. Do not wait until you are thirsty, that is normally a sign you are already dehydrated.
Hypotonic and isotonic drinks
Water is not the only thing lost through sweating, the body also loses electrolytes (vital vitamins and minerals needed for heart, muscle and nerve function). Hypotonic drinks are designed to replenish fluid and electrolytes lost from sweating without also providing energy (added calories). Isotonic drinks are designed to replenish electrolytes and provide energy in the form of sugar (calories), containing electrolytes and carbohydrates.
These drinks can come in several forms and can contain varying levels of sugar so be sure to check the label. Try not to go for anything that has more than 4-8g of sugars/ carbohydrates per 100ml. (“Energy drinks” can also be full of chemicals, try to go for more sport aimed drinks than more common sugary “energy drinks”).
· Carry a water bottle everywhere!
· Take in fluids little and often, especially when physically active
· Headaches, grogginess, lack of focus can all be related to dehydration
· Tea and coffee don’t really count
· If you are experiencing cramping, then a isotonic or hypertonic drink might be more effective than plain water
· Don't wait until you are thirsty!