Hydration 101: Everything You Need to Know
Our bodies are about 60 percent water, so it’s no secret that proper hydration is key to good health. This becomes even more important when we’re exercising and playing pickleball! But how much should we drink? When should we drink? And what should we drink?
The so-called “golden rule” to drink eight glasses of water a day is really more of a barebones minimum and not nearly enough for most of us. So what is the magic number? While recommendations and formulas abound, there isn’t any one “magic number.” Here are a few principles to keep in mind when listening to your body and estimating how much you need to drink a day:
1. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. While this may seem counterintuitive, unlike food, where you shouldn’t eat before you’re hungry, with water it’s the exact opposite. If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. A good benchmark for proper hydration is that you shouldn’t be thirsty at all if you are drinking enough over the course of a normal day.
2. Consider your age, weight, and activity level--and even where you live. A 200-pound man will need more water than a 110-pound woman. As we age, we also need more water because it is common to become less thirsty and our kidneys can’t conserve the water we do drink as well. If you’re on the court 10 hours a week, you’ll need more water than someone who is only on the court five hours a week. Finally, it’s important to consider where you live, as heat and altitude both affect hydration, and living in a hotter or more humid climate or in a higher altitude climate both require you to drink extra water.
3. Your urine should be a light straw color. This is one of the absolute best ways to tell if you’re properly hydrated. If your urine is darker than a light straw color, you’ll know you need to drink more!
ON-COURT HYDR ATION
When should we drink?
What about when we’re on the court? How much should we drink during play? Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for about half a cup of water every 15 minutes or so. Of course, you’ll also want to listen to your body and definitely not chug to the point your stomach hurts and you can’t move. But do make sure to keep your water bottle close by and aim to take a few long swigs about every 15 minutes.
What should we drink?Finally, what about the age-old debate between water and sports drinks like Gatorade? While Gatorade certainly gets a lot of marketing hype, it’s actually not all that great for you, thanks to a heavy dose of added sugars or artificial sugars for the lower-calorie options. Unless you are playing for 2-3 hours at a very intense level or out in extreme heat and sweating a lot, you should be fine with just sticking to plain old H2O for your on-court hydration needs. If you do need an energetic pick-me-up, you’re much better off going the natural sugar route. Think bananas or raisins or salty pretzels coupled with, you guessed it, water. Coconut water is also an awesome natural sports drink alternative and contains a nice balance of electrolytes, sodium and potassium without the added or artificial sugars found in popular sports drinks.
NOW WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GET DRINKING AND HAPPY PLAYING!
Kalindi Dinoffer has been published in Tennis Industry Magazine and also has her own holistic health and mindful living blog MindBodyMusings.com. Kalindi lives in Dallas, Texas, and serves as the Marketing Coordinator for Oncourt Offcourt.