National Athletic Trainers' Association Responds to New Hydration Advice from Institute of Medicine's Report on Water and Electrolytes

Relying on Thirst is Not the Best Advice for Athletes

DALLAS, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) wants to comment on the findings of the Institute of Medicine's Report on water and electrolytes. The press release issued by the Institute of Medicine notes that "The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide." While this statement is accurate for individuals who have average amounts of daily physical activity, NATA believes that this advice is misleading for athletes and can increase the risk of dehydration and heat illnesses. Research shows that relying on thirst may cause athletes to underestimate fluid needs and replace on average only about 50% of the fluid lost in sweat. Therefore, the NATA recommends athletes drink on a schedule based on their individual sweat rate, regardless of thirst, to ensure that they are replacing sweat losses. NATA recently convened an Inter-Association Task Force comprised of 18 sports medicine groups and injury prevention and health professional organizations to release an Exertional Heat Illnesses Consensus Statement. The Consensus Statement, which applies to activity at all levels of intensity, states: THIRST IS NOT ENOUGH: There is scientific research to support the idea that thirst is not an optimal way to determine when and how much an athlete should drink. By the time an athlete is thirsty, they are already somewhat dehydrated and in most cases will not drink enough to fully replace the fluids lost in sweat. TO BE SAFE, KNOW YOUR SWEAT RATE: Rather than relying on thirst or simply drinking as much as you can tolerate (which can also be dangerous), knowing how much you sweat is the best way to determine hydration needs. To figure out how much you sweat, weigh yourself before and after exercise. The weight you lost in ounces represents fluid and that amount is how much should be consumed (in total) before, during and after exercise to adequately replace sweat and keep the body balanced. REPLACE FLUIDS & ELECTROLYTES LOST: Optimal hydration is the replacement of fluids and electrolytes based on individual needs. Drinking a sports drink helps replace the key electrolytes lost in sweat. EXPERT SPOKESPERSON - AVAILABLE TO COMMENT ON THIS ISSUE: Douglas Casa, PhD, ATC University of Connecticut Phone: (860) 486-3624 Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the more than 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax). For more information call: Ellen Satlof, NATA PR Manager (214.637.6282, ext. 159) or Karen Stillman (312.751.3524) SOURCE National Athletic Trainers' Association Web Site: Response to Hydration Advice

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