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Hydration: The Key to Exercise Success

Quench your thirst safely this summer and avoid dehydration.

Choosing Your Hydration Fluid continued...

Drinking no more than eight ounces every 20 minutes - as Jeri Salazar does - provides enough but not too much fluid, Maharam says. He is one expert who believes that "the risk of dehydration, even in the heat, is far less than developing hyponatremia." Why? Although dehydration is more common, hyponatremia can kill. One easy way to stay safe during a race: Don't drink water at every station, he advises. A number of sports drinks contain sodium and other electrolytes that plain water does not.

Publicity about hyponatremia, however, raises concerns among many trainers, who say that dehydration remains the key problem for summer athletes.

"It is a very real problem, and you have athletes saying, 'I don't what to get hyponatremia,' and invariably they end up not drinking enough and get dehydrated," von Frohlich says.

Adds Jeri Salazar: "Many of the people I train initially believe that they should drink "as much water as possible" to avoid becoming dehydrated. However, more and more often these days, runners and the medical staff at races are being warned about the dangers of over-hydrating when running for an extended period of time."

"My runners ask me, 'How much should I drink?' I tell them, 'The answer lies in the process of determining individual fluid needs and developing a hydration strategy based on those needs,'" she says. "An appropriate hydration strategy can maximize running performance and reduce any risks of sub-optimal performance and or health issues."

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Reviewed on March 12, 2009

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