Rehydrate! Water, Coconut Water or Sports Drinks?

Friday, July 11, 2014 12:55 PM comments (0)

rehydrateIt’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day but it’s especially important to replenish your body with fluids after exercise, particularly after periods of intense physical activity or exercise performed in high temperatures. But what’s the best way to hydrate? 

Water might seem like the obvious rehydration choice but there are other options. Patrick Birmingham, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, discusses the pros and cons of some after-exercise rehydration options:

Water. Every system of the human body requires water to function, so when you exercise and lose water by perspiring, you need to replenish what you lost. On average, every individual needs to consume approximately 1.9 liters of water a day but this amount increases when you factor in exercise, especially high-intensity exercise. 

Pros: Unlike some sports drinks and coconut water, there are no calories in water so you won’t undo any of the good accomplished during your workout. After short, moderate workouts, water should be sufficient for rehydration. 

Cons: After intense workouts lasting more than an hour, your body loses not just water but important electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and these electrolytes will need to be replenished too. In this situation, water might not cut it. 

Coconut water. Coconut water is all the rage but is this “natural” source any better than a bottle of water or a sports drink when it comes to rehydration after a workout?

Pros: Depending on the brand, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than the typical sports drink. Generally, it also has no added colors and only natural flavors (from other juices, for instance). 

Cons: After an intense workout, the most important electrolyte you need to replenish is sodium. Coconut water has less sodium than most sports drinks, which means it might not be able to do the heavy lifting after a particularly intense workout. Some coconut waters are enhanced with extra sodium but that can alter the flavor and make consumption less pleasant.

Sports drinks. Most popular sports drinks provide approximately 13-19 grams of carbohydrates and between 80-120 milligrams of sodium.

Pros: Sports drinks are made especially to replace the electrolytes you lose during long, arduous workouts, so they should be your go-to source on high-intensity days. The tasty flavors mean you’re likely to consume enough when you need it most. Pediatric rehydration mixtures like Pedialyte are also a great option. They have just the right combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates with less sugar. 

Cons: Many sports drinks have added artificial flavors, colors and unnecessary sugars. Make sure to check for lower-calorie versions so you aren’t undoing all your hard work at the end of your workout.

All summer long, NorthShore will be at athletic events in the community to help you find out how you can Unleash Your Inner Athlete. Come to the NorthShore tent and enter to win free entry into upcoming summer races and/or a grand price of a personal activity monitor. For a schedule of events where you can find NorthShore, click here

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Short on Time? Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 5:01 PM comments (0)

exerciseSchedules fill up quickly, days are busy and sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. And, unfortunately, it’s often our exercise regimens that are the first to fall by the wayside. But don’t give up! Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being. 

Thomas Hudgins, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at NorthShore, shares some effective ways to maximize the time you have for exercise: 

  • Incorporate interval training into your cardio workout. Shift between periods of high intensity to low intensity to rev up your workout. The frequent change in resting heart rate will boost your metabolism and the toggling between intensities will increase your endurance.
  • Include exercise throughout the day. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. You can work this into your daily routine by taking the stairs or parking at the farthest point from your destination in a parking lot.
  • Divide your workout equally between cardio and strength training. You’ll burn lots of calories but also improve your strength. Building muscle helps boost stamina for endurance sports and revs up your metabolism. Strength training also improves bone density, range of motion, and stability and balance. It’s a great exercise to explore now and as you age. 
  • Do full body exercises. If you are short on time focus on exercises that target your largest muscle groups, like squats, plank rows and lunges. Lunges can be conducted in all planes, meaning forward, backward, sideways and diagonal. Include weights with these exercises to get even more bang for your minutes. These exercises also work multiple muscle groups and are a safe, efficient way to build more muscle. 
  • Stretch thoroughly. Stretching after a workout, and sometimes even the next morning, will help reduce soreness and risk of injury. Don’t put your exercise at risk; injury could derail the healthy routine you’ve worked so hard to develop.
  • Work your core. Core stability and strength is important for any activity or sport. Planks will contract your abdominal, back and buttock muscles at the same time. It's easy to pull double duty too because core exercises can be conducted while you're watching TV or reading a book.

What is your go-to workout plan when you’re short on time?

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