Good hydration is essential

Good hydration is essential for anyone exercising to maximise performance, reduce risk of injury and improve recovery. Studies have shown that even a 2% decrease in body weight through water loss, (possible by sweating on a hot day in 1 hour), can cause up to a 20% decrease in performance. Calculating how much fluid an individual needs varies and can be measured more accurately by regular assessment of the body weight during exercise and in different environments. An alternative method is to check urine colour and volume!! However as this is impractical for most people, a rough guide is to have 300-500ml of fluid 15 minutes prior exercising and then take approximately 150-200ml every 10-15 minutes during exercise, depending on the conditions. Usually cold fluids are more palatable during exercise. It is important that the fluid leaves the stomach quickly and so the drink needs to have a glucose content of less than 10%. Water is fine if exercising for less than 90 minutes but an isotonic drink (e.g. Lucozade sport) is recommended if it’s for a longer period.

It’s just as important to rehydrate after exercise and replenish the glycogen (the way body stores energy in muscles) used during exercise as quickly as possible. This is achievable with a high carbohydrate sports drink.

At the end of a game the emphasis should be on replacing muscle energy stores quickly so fruit, protein milkshakes and even low fat pizza are suitable.