The science of sweat: Why hydration is important to your workout

Four-time Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser, discusses the importance of proper...

Four-time Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser, discusses the importance of proper training, nutrition and hydration for optimal performance at the Gatorade High Performance Hockey Summit in Toronto on April 1.

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:02 PM ET

After a long, cold winter, spring has officially arrived. And for thousands of Canadians, this can mean only one thing: the end of hockey season.

Sure, the playoffs are happening as we speak, and many a beloved team didn't make the cut, but the end of hockey season is the best time to talk about future training ideas and how to keep hockey as healthy as ever.

Recently Hockey Canada used the down time to host 110 of the country’s top minor hockey coaches and trainers at the second annual Gatorade High Performance Hockey Summit to contemplate the game and how players can improve their performance.

Participating superstar athletes Chris Pronger and Hayley Wickenheiser were on hand to offer their expertise and talk about the evolution of the game, and how it continuously evolves, with nutrition and hydration as high up on the training scale as any type of physical participation in the game. In fact, nutrition and hydration are more important today than ever before.

According to research conducted by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, the average hockey player loses approximately 1.5 litres of sweat every hour on the ice. But, many athletes do not replenish the fluid that is lost, causing dehydration. Even mild dehydration can affect athletic performance.

"Reaching and maintaining peak performance levels isn't solely dependent on training," said Dr. Lawrence Spriet, professor and chair, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph. "Proper hydration and fuelling with carbohydrates is critical to hockey performance."

For many young athletes, the offseason is seen as an opportunity to recuperate but also to hone their skills and improve their game. Even at the amateur level, the realities and pressures associated with maintaining a competitive advantage are quite apparent.

Grit, tenacity and heart will get you far, but what does it really take to stay on top of your game as a young athlete?

"Today’s young athlete has a lot to consider when it comes to maintaining peak performance,” said Shirley Mukerjea of Gatorade Canada. "At Gatorade, the goal is to use our 49 years of sports science research and expertise to build an understanding that proper hydration and nutrition are essential when it comes to helping athletes perform at their absolute best."

Research shows in order to maintain a competitive advantage, players need to focus on far more than on-ice skill development — regardless of the sport, as an athlete, you play hard, you sweat a lot and you need energy. In order to compete at the highest level possible, players must develop good habits when it comes to training and fuelling their bodies through proper nutrition and hydration.

The Science of Sweat:

  1. During a game or practice, the average hockey player loses 1.5L of sweat per hour.
  2. Sweat is more than water. When players sweat, they lose important electrolytes. Electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, play a key role in brain-to-muscle communication, which is important for performance.
  3. Sodium helps you achieve quick and complete rehydration by helping your body replace the fluids that are lost through sweat.
  4. Dehydration can force your heart to work harder and your body core temperature to rise, causing your performance to suffer.
  5. Consuming fluids during exercise keeps your blood volume up and your core temperature down. Both help you fight fatigue and perform better.

— Gatorade Canada

 


Videos

Photos