Hiking, mountaineering and hydration

Do you like hiking, trekking or hiking, and mountain sports?

Of course, I know your answer is YES, otherwise you would never have read this post.

And since you and I share a common hobby, I’m sure we also have similar anecdotes and experiences, and of course, we also have similar concerns.

One of those concerns at this time of year is to face the heat: will I bring enough water?

Well, then how much is as important as the when and how when talking about hydration.

In the practice of any sport (hiking, hiking, mountaineering, etc….) it is necessary, apart from certain physical conditions (which are achieved with training and practice), proper nutrition and hydration.

Why is it so important that we are properly hydrated?

For the perfect functioning of our body we need water, but some basic functions of our body such as urinating, breathing or sweating cause our water level to drop and we have to replenish it daily; in a healthy adult this consumption is around 2 liters a day. This state of optimal hydration is called euhidratation.

When we lose more water than we ingest, our bodies go into a state of water deficit, commonly known as dehydration. In the course of intense activity, between 500 and 2000 ml of fluids can be lost, reaching 3 liters in extreme cases. From a loss of 2% of our body weight, we start to feel the effects of dehydration. This dehydration can also alter the balance of the body’s mineral salts and electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium.

In the face of this decrease in salts, we notice a certain muscular weakness, listlessness and some bad mood, a direct consequence of low potassium levels. If we notice cramps or spasms, we are faced with an evident lack of magnesium.

On the FEMEDE (Spanish Society of Sports Medicine) website, you can find a lot of interesting information, including the Consensus Document prepared by the working group on nutrition and sport coordinated by Nieves Palacios: Consensus Document.

If the loss of liquids and salts is not replaced and is prolonged over time, we will suffer more serious consequences such as exhaustion or heat stroke (in a future article dedicated exclusively to first aid, our colleague Cristina will explain to us how to act if we reach this point).

Table drew upon the basis of the data in the document “Consensus on Beverages for Athletes”. FEMEDE, 2008.
What factors influence the water balance when practicing mountain sports?

There are several different factors that influence the loss of our water balance:

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