What exactly is the importance of being hydrated? And electrolytes, what are those anyway?
I hope I can help answer both of these questions for you. By definition, hydration is the condition of having adequate fluid in the body tissues. Hydration is important because water allows oxygen to be released to the muscles throughout the body. This is especially important when playing a sport or engaging in physical activity. Proper hydration also allows for the body to sweat, which is critical in cooling of the body during exercise.
Contrary to the former way of thinking, hydration has a lot more to do with maintaining balance through electrolytes than it does with simply drinking eight 8oz. glasses of water per day. In regards to physiology, the primary ions of electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen, phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. As human beings, we require a complex balance of electrolytes within and outside of our cells. When this balance is lost muscle strength is severely diminished, painful muscle contractions (muscle cramps) can occur, and the body loses its ability to cool itself.
You can consume electrolytes through various sports drinks that will promote the necessary balance and aid in hydration. Although, I caution against Gatorade and Powerade, both which contain high fructose corn syrup as a leading ingredient. A healthier alternative is adding an electrolyte tablet, such as Nuun, to your water.
Happy training. Bring on the warm weather!!