As the summer is approaching, this is the perfect time to share some information about dehydration and how it can affect us.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is ‘a harmful reduction in the amount of water in the body’ that can be caused by fluid loss, for example by sweating.
Why is being hydrated so important?
According to Sports Cardiology (2015) consuming plenty of water enables our bodies to regulate our body temperature and enables muscle contractions. Sweating is an unconscious action controlled by our hypothalamus and is the main way we can control our body temperature. This is why it is essential to replenish fluids that are lost during exercise. Exertional heat stress is a condition where the body temperature is too high, with symptoms including hypotension, hyperventilation, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and in extreme cases, coma. Restoring fluids maintain normal muscle function, helps prevents a decrease in physical performance and reduces the risk of exertional heat stress1.
Although shooting is a less physically demanding sport in comparison to some others, it is still essential to stay hydrated to maintain performance. “A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease of physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more of body weight during physical activities can decrease the capacity for work by roughly 30%. In addition to dehydration affecting the capacity for work, losses of perspiration greater than 2% of body weight increases the risk of nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.”(1)
According to McCartney et al (2017), dehydration causes fatigue, confusion and tension. In many cases, tension can cause a ‘snappy’ and erratic movement to the target, which can in turn cause us to miss targets.
On top of this, dehydration can have adverse effect on athletes in the shooting sport for numerous reasons other than those above. Dehydration can impair cognitive ability and decrease processing speed. As athletes, shooters rely on quick processing speeds to analyse where is the target coming from, where is the target going and how we are going to break the target. Dehydration reduces our psychomotor skills and how quickly we can make those judgements, irrelevant of which discipline we take part in.
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
There are many symptoms of dehydration. For example:
· Feeling thirsty
· Not passing urine regularly
· Dark coloured or strong-smelling urine
· Blurred vision
As well as many much more severe symptoms(2)
How can I prevent dehydration?
There are many ways to do so, including:
· Drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day
· Choosing drinks that are lower in proteins and carbohydrates, but higher in electrolytes
· Reducing overall intake of caffeine and alcohol
· Keep checking your urine to ensure it’s a pale colour
· Consume foods with a high-water content such as oranges, pineapple and watermelon(3)
For those interested, the information used on this page was sourced from the below pages: