It’s never a bad time to talk about hydration during competition and workouts. There is always a need to stay hydrated when you’re doing physical activity, something that truly everyone agrees on. What we don’t think about so often is how what temperature the water is when we drink it. You’ll see people with bottles that are full to the brim with ice,freezing cold water inside. Others will drink water that’s been sitting in the hot car all day and that’s warm to the touch. And yet others get it straight out of the tap and right at room temperature.
With such drastic differences in the temperature of the water, it’s got to mean something doesn’t it? Let’s talk about hydration, and learn a little bit of the science behind the body, temperature and water!
Hydration is Vital
Did you know that once you’re thirsty, it’s a signal that your body is already dehydrated?
So often fencers come into the studio after a long day at school and haven’t had anything to drink all day. Then once they start working out, they’re suddenly very thirsty! That’s because exercise increases the amount of water that your body needs in order to function as you lose water through both sweat and through respiration.
Did you know that athletic performance suffers greatly when dehydration occurs?
Focus and strength are reduced within just a few minutes of becoming dehydrated, and muscle cramping can occur when dehydration begins. The effects can last on into the next day! While the body can go for weeks without food, it can only manage a few days without water.
Staying well hydrated is absolutely essential for athletes. This cannot be overstated! When your child reaches for that drink, they’re naturally going for something that their body needs. Encourage your child to drink lots of water at regular intervals, BEFORE they become thirsty. Keep in mind – thirst is the body’s way of crying for help!!
Did you know that fencers sweat – a LOT?
Fencers wear 3 and sometimes even 4 layers of protective gear. These layers are not only heavy, but hot! Fencers sweat more than many other athletes because fencing, while a sport of control and focus, is very much a physical endeavour. The body must be strong and firm, and there is a great deal of both muscle and cardio power that goes into fencing.
Did you know that during professional fencing matches, water is a top priority?
Did you ever notice that when a fencer has a break during DE’s, they always sip some water? Next time you see a match, notice that as soon as the break starts you’ll see a parent or coach bring water to the fencer immediately during the 1 minute break, allowing them to get hydrated so that their performance will stay on point! Hydration is a constant focus for top fencers, and one that you’ll see again and again in high level competition. In order to fence like the pros, drink like the pros!
Did you know that the body absorbs liquids of temperature in different ways?
Cold liquids and warm liquids are absorbed into the body in drastically different ways, so temperature matters!
Cold or Warm Water During a Workout or Competition?
It’s quite usual for people to fill their water bottle with ice, or to use a bottle that has a special place for ice to cool down their water. People like it because they feel more refreshed when they drink water that’s icy cold.
Body temperature goes up during exercise, because you’re burning so many calories. This heat can throw the body out of its natural balanced state. Being overheated is super stressful on the body. It makes everything work harder. Luckily we work out inside for the most part, so overheating isn’t so much of a problem for us!
Many people believe that drinking cold water causes muscle cramps. This is in reality just not true. Drinking water (of any temperature) when working out is always a good thing, and overhydration is really very difficult for most people. Warming up well and breathing deeply while exercising are the best ways to prevent cramping and side stitches. Keep drinking!
Room Temperature or Lukewarm Water
Room temperature water or water that’s a little warm is easy to come by. Of course if you just leave water out, you’ll find that it comes to the same temperature as the room.
Did you know that room temp/warm water helps muscles to perform better?
Warm water relaxes the body as it enters it. That prepares muscles to work hard! Olympic swimmers take showers in warm water before they race to get their muscles ready. One study even showed that drinking warm water was related to individuals being able to do more bench presses. Muscle performance is important in fencing, and this information is pretty compelling!
Did you know that room temp/warm water hydrates the body better?
When you drink cold water, your body has to work hard to heat that water up in order to get it to where it needs to go. However warm or room temperature water is already close to the temperature of the body, so the body doesn’t have to work hard to get it right! Drinking cold water also burns calories, and a fencer might need to get through a competition. Bodies can get hydrated faster with warm water!
The biggest conclusion here is that it’s essential to DRINK!! Make sure that there is always water available during training and competition, and that hydration starts being a priority! Whatever temperature the water is matters less than just the fact that they’re drinking! Most people don’t drink nearly enough, so just start off by getting it in.
That being said, different temperatures of water can be useful in different situations. You might go for warm when working on strength training, fencing at the club and during competition, but go for cold if you’re outside doing strenuous activities. But in either case we come again to the point that the most important thing to do is to drink, no matter what kind of water it is! Don’t ever hold back on hydration because the water isn’t just right – go for it!
Our coaches believe that the best drink is room temperature. However, many prefer to drink cold because it is nicer and feels better especially when it is hot. What ever you like, make sure to drink enough!
The right conclusion is that there is no clear evidence which is right: cold, hot, or room temperature. The bottom line is that it all depends on what your coach believes, and each coach will swear that their beliefs are right and prove it. But there is really not conclusive evidence one way or another. Quite often it is emotions, prior knowledge and experience, fairy tales and superstitious beliefs that guide the preference for one temperature or another. My belief is that frankly it does not matter – whatever you like, the most important is to drink the right amount often enough to stay properly hydrated.
The takeaway here is to listen to your body, keep drinking to stay hydrated, and have fun! Don’t let poor water habits get in the way of great fencing!