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Studying Sweat Can Help Tailor Hydration Programs for Athletes

Update Date: Oct 07, 2013 02:59 PM EDT
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Even though athletes learn how to care for their bodies, one of the biggest issues they deal with is dehydration. Some studies have found that for young athletes, dehydration tends to occur when they overexert themselves and forget to replenish their bodies. Dehydration can lead to many health complications. In a new study, researchers from the University of Stirling worked with rugby players and revealed the importance of focusing on sweat when it comes to sports research.

"When you sweat, your body not only loses fluid, but also electrolytes - salts such as sodium and potassium," said Dr. Stuart Galloway, a Stirling Health and Exercise scientist and senior sport lecturer reported by Medical Xpress. "The individual variation in salt losses can be large and is influenced by many factors, but in some people salt losses are high. Alongside the large individual variations in fluid losses with exercise this means that some athletes require specific strategies to optimize fluid and salt replacement between training sessions and in matches."

In this study, the researchers analyzed each individual player's sweat pattern. By examining the sweat profiles of the senior players, the researchers were able to work with nutritionists in creating unique hydration plans. The team of researchers and nutritionists stated that sweat gave them an understanding of how each athlete's body hydrate. Some bodies need more liquids whereas others can retain fluids better.

The team also stated that sweat could help them determine what kinds of nutrients each athlete needs to recuperate more efficiently. For example, they found that even though 90 percent of the athletes were considered to fall under normal boundaries, around four to five guys had naturally higher levels of sodium and/or potassium. These athletes would need fluids that are tailored to them.

The researchers were able to create sweat profiles with the use of small pads. These pads were placed directly on the athlete's chest, back, quad and calf during training sessions. The pads provided information on sweat composition and key electrolytes. The researchers hope that studying sweat in future studies could help improve athletes' health and performance levels.

The study was provided by the University of Stirling, Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence. 

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