Facts and Fictions About Hydrating While Running

More than 36 percent of runners drink according to a preset schedule or to maintain a certain body weight. Roughly 9 percent drink as much as possible. Almost 30 percent believe they need extra salt while running, and more than half (57.6 percent) drink sports drinks because the drinks have electrolytes that prevent low blood sodium. If you answered “What’s wrong with that?” to any of the above convictions, take one step backwards. All of the above are wrong, or at least “unscientific” in the language of Loyola University Health System researchers who surveyed 91 men and 106 women who had been running for an average of 8 years. Science Daily reports on the survey, which persuaded the researchers that “Many athletes hold unscientific views regarding the benefits of different hydration practices.” No kidding. The researchers point out that drinking too much fluid while running can cause a potentially fatal condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia. Drinking too much during exercise can also dilute the sodium content of blood to abnormally low levels. What to do? Loyola sports medicine physician Dr. James Winger, first author of the study, advises runners to drink only when thirsty.

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