June 11, 2009

Some Summertime Hydration Tips

It’s summer and that means that it’s critical to your game that you make a conscious effort to keep your body hydrated. Your scores, and your health depend on it!

Studies have proven that a loss of two or more percent of one's body weight due to sweating is linked to a drop in blood volume. That’s not very much, if you think about it. When you lose that much water, your blood thickens, and you heart has to work harder to move blood through your bloodstream. It can cause muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue and even heat stroke or in extreme cases, death. That doesn’t sound too good for your golf game, not to mention your overall general health.
But How At Risk Are You?

Two percent of your weight is not a lot, especially over the course of a four (or five!) hour round on a hot summer day. Some simple math shows us as much: given that two pounds per hundred that you weigh is two percent. For a 185 pound man, that’s a mere 3.7 pounds, and for all intents and purposes the entire weight loss in a round of golf is sweat.

Sweat, for the most part, is water, plus some electrolytes, but for the purposes of this rough calculation, we’ll treat it as though it were pure water. That means, again, roughly speaking, that a gallon of sweat weighs about 8.3 pounds. So, two percent of sweat in the 185 pound fellow in our example is 1.8 pints – not very much at all.

So losing that two percent is easier than we might think, even if you’re not a heavy sweater. While studies show that women sweat less than men, generally speaking, again, two percent on a hot summer day pretty much anywhere is fairly common.

That in mind, it’s a good idea for both you and your golf game to prepare for the heat beforehand and also to mitigate your thirst during your round in order to maintain your energy and hydration levels.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that sports medicine practitioners have developed:

  1. Drink Water Before, During and After for peak performance and safety
  2. Don't Drink Caffeine Drinks, they make dehydration worse
  3. Don’t Drink Alcoholic Drinks, They Make Things Worse
  4. Consider Sports Drinks-they provide hydration and some needed carbohydrates
  5. Don’t Bother With Electrolyte-Plus Drinks, you probably don't need them golfing

Water is your best friend on the golf course on a hot day if you are serious about your score and your health. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “ a pre-hydration program will help ensure that any previously incurred fluid-electrolyte deficit is corrected
prior to initiating the exercise task. When hydrating prior to exercise the individual should
slowly drink beverages (for example, ~5–7 mL per Kilogram of body weight) at least 4 hours before the exercise task.”

In other words, drink a reasonable amount of water well before you play in order to ensure that your body hits the first tee already hydrated. Starting with a deficit, it is likely that you’ll never catch up.

Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and a diuretic, meaning that it constricts your blood vessels (making your heart work harder) and also as a diuretic, meaning it stimulates your body to reduce the water it contains. That’s a double whammy of going in the wrong direction. (see: http://www.medicinenet.com/caffeine/page3.htm)

Alcohol has the same diuretic effects as caffeine, meaning it works against your hydration, and causes you to lose more hydration than you gain. Save drinking until the 19th hole.

Sports drinks can be helpful to golfers for two reasons: while golf is hardly as intense as aerobic exercise or competition, a round does generally last a lot longer than a typical workout or game. A five-hour round on a busy course in the summer is not at all unusual and that’s quite a long time to be out in the heat. That’s why a sports drink like Gatorade is good, because it supplies 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces, and that helps to supply the needed calories required for maintaining your concentration, which in turn leads to smoother and better golf swings.

It's really not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you're unlikely to deplete your body's stores of these minerals during a normal round, but just in case, most sports drinks pack those in too, and any excess will be combed out of your system by your kidneys and eliminated through your urinary system.

sources: American College of Sports Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control, WebMD.com, about.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something to say? We'd love to hear it.