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Hydration

As marching musicians, the physical demands on student's bodies are high. This is especially true during the hot and humid months of summer rehearsal and early season. Proper hydration is incredibly important to stay both physically and mentally healthy.

Contrary to popular belief, simply drinking water when you are thirsty is not good advice when it comes to properly hydrating the body. When the thirst mechanism activates, it is usually a sign the body is already under hydrated (and possibly headed toward dehydration).
Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you drink. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t work properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following: dizziness or lightheaded feeling, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dry mouth, lack of sweating, and hard, fast heartbeat, among others.

Research shows that student athletes and performers should follow these guidelines for hydration:
• Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before they start exercising
• Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up.
• Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
• Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.

It is possible to hydrate too much; drinking excessive amounts of water in a short period of time can lead to hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. When excessive amounts of water are consumed, the sodium levels in the body become diluted, and the kidneys cannot excrete enough fluid. This causes the cells to become water logged and the brain to swell. This is a potentially life-threatening situation and requires immediate medical attention. Although hyponatremia is not common, everyone needs to be aware of it, as it is something that can easily be prevented.

Electrolytes found in sports drinks can be beneficial in regulating nerve and muscle function and replacing electrolytes lost through sweat. For adolescent athletes enduring physical activity for more than sixty to ninety minutes at a time, or for young athletes who practice in high heat and humidity, sports drinks can be beneficial in replenishing lost nutrients. The bottom line, however, is that water (pure water) is essential for an athlete to perform optimally. 
 
Tips for hydration success:
• Start drinking water as soon as you wake up in the morning
• Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffees, sodas, and energy drinks
• Fruits and vegetables are 75-96% water, so eating fruits or vegetables with meals or snacks will help add to your total water intake
• Consume liquids even when you're not practicing
 
 

Sources
"The Importance of Good Hydration"
"The Importance of Hydration for Youth Athletes"
"Marching Health: 7 tips for Staying Hydrated and Beating the Heat"

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