Water Versus Sports Drinks

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In the 1960s, a nephrologist (kidney expert) who helped care for student athletes at the University of Florida developed a drink that he hoped would be close to the fluid most needed to refresh the exercising human body. The product was named Gatorade® by merging the university’s mascot, the Gator, and a then popular fruit flavored drink, Kool-Aid®. Since the late 1960s, the marketing and advertisements for this and competing sports drinks have contributed much neoscience in an attempt to convince consumers that sports drinks not only are beneficial but are necessary for top performance.

The sports science laying the foundation for these replacement drinks is fairly simple. The body is 95% water; circulating blood and even the cytoplasm in each cell contain water that is very similar to saline or sea water. As the body heats up during work or exercise, the optimal core temperature is maintained by dispersing heat through evaporating sweat from the body’s surface. Sweat contains water and salts, both of which must be replaced or body function will begin to decrease.

Water Versus Sports Drinks

Depending on the climate, the amount of work done, and the sweat lost, people may need to make a conscious effort to replace the lost water and salts. Here the debate begins: What is the ideal replacement fluid? Those who say water is best rely on the fact that the average American diet already contains an excess of sodium, 8 – 20 grams of dietary salt, when the daily need is only 0.5 – 1 gram.

Additionally, water is found everywhere and is very cheap. This lowtech approach is scorned by the sports drink advocates, who say athletes won’t drink enough water because it’s “just water” and that their product also replaces the necessary substances like potassium and adds some fuel as an additional advantage. The rebuttal from the water supporters includes an explanation that the fuel is just simple sugar and certainly not enough to offset the caloric needs of the athlete. Regardless of opinion, the exercising body needs to have some liquid replaced, and a little sugar and salt do not seem to cause any harm. You can also make water more palatable. It should be cool but not cold, very lightly flavored but not sugary, and many people advocate coloring it for eye appeal. The key to making water effective as a fluid replacement is to drink it early and often but without causing a dilution of the body’s sodium.

Today, teams ranging from recreational soccer to professional basketball use commercial sports drinks. Product logos are well known, and companies often sponsor the sport science research designed to prove their industry’s claims. Often, the low-tech advocates for water are overwhelmed by money, advertisements, and even sports politics that are stacked against them. We should remember, however, that water was the original sports drink.

Lightning Golf

A golfer should never race a thunderstorm to the end of a round or even to the next hole. It’s much too dangerous. In the U.S., lightning is ranked second only to floods as a major cause of weather casualties. A golf course, with its ground elevations, open fields, isolated trees, golf carts, and water, provides the perfect environment for lightning injuries. You should never stay on an open course when lightning can be seen or thunder can be heard. At that point, you are already at risk.

At your first glimpse of lightning or the first rumble of thunder, seek shelter immediately. The best shelter is a large, closed-in buildingsuch as the clubhouse. Avoid isolated trees and water. If you are caught out in the open in a thunderstorm with no shelter nearby, find a low place, such as a ravine or valley. You should crouch down so that you are not the highest object. You should also avoid metal in a thunderstorm. Move away from your golf cart and your golf clubs and, if your golf shoes have metal spikes, take them off.

If a thunderstorm threatens your game, don’t try to finish it in lightning speed. Instead, pack up and head to the clubhouse, where you can safely wait out the storm and live to play another day.

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