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Is water healthy? That is a question that is not easy to answer. Not only because each sport differs in terms of duration and intensity, but also because scientists are not on the same page about this subject. Until 1970, top athletes drank as little water as possible. This is the example of our ancestors, who ran for hours in the burning sun behind their prey without moisture. By sweating they kept their body temperature low, but they did not lose so much moisture that this led to extreme dehydration. That could also let marathon runners better. New research changed this accepted idea, writes South African scientist Timothy Noakes in Sports Medicine. So researchers later concluded that perspiration only lowers your temperature when you keep drinking enough. In the nineties it was generally accepted to drink as much as possible to prevent dehydration, but a quantity that would not lead to gastrointestinal problems anyway, according to Noakes. Drinking water lowers the blood pressure.
Good hydration in the summer. Dehydration occurs according to the American College of Sports Medicine when you lose more fluid than you get. How much you sweat depends on, among other things, the functioning of your body, the type of training, the climate and the type of clothing you wear. The Olympic Committee calls moisture and salt deficits an important cause for muscle cramps. In particular sodium plays an important role in muscle contraction according to the NOC * NSF. A shortage can lead to uncontrolled contractions and lesser performance.
Part of the scientists therefore writes that athletes can drink half a liter of water or sports drink one to two hours before a training session or competition to reduce this lack of moisture, exhaustion and possible overheating. Athletes should also continue to drink during and after training to prevent this type of discomfort, but recent research has shown that drinking has a big downside.
For example, Kevin Miller of Central Michigan University warns of over hydration in The New York Times. Calculate how much water you should drink per day. That is a risky state in which the body can no longer process and excrete all the fluid. In the worst case, the cells in your body swell up, resulting in death. Moreover, Dr. Miller finds no evidence for the 'benefits of drinking water' - such as the prevention of muscle cramps. Other researchers also see no relationship between fluid deficiency and cramping. Where does that cramp come from? Miller suspects that overload is the culprit. Athletes who ask too much of their body might get cramped if they have reached their max.
Now we still do not know how much to drink and when. Lisbeth Both, co-owner of the Rotterdam-based Cross fit Nultien, says it is difficult to give clear drinking advice. "It is custom work," she says. "And depends on the intensity of the work-out." Lisbeth advises its members during low intensity training before, during and after a drink. That does not apply to work-outs with a high intensity. "If people drink a lot of water and then do the bur pee exercise, they will puke it out." Although science is divided on the relationship between fluid loss and muscle cramps, the trainer notices that members who do not drink enough to drink suffer from cramps. "Just like people who drink a lot of coffee, they too have problems with their muscles."
Drink when you are thirsty and recommend both Miller and Noakes. They also advise marathon runners, who regularly drink before they are actually thirsty, because they think they are too late. According to Miller and Noakes, there is no evidence for this claim. In other words, as long as science is not there yet listening to your body remains the best advice.