Salt Helps to Retain Fluid

Researchers at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, UK show that the salty drinks help your body to retain fluid and therefore increase the time that you can exercise, particularly in the heat (European Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2008). They fed drinks of four different salt concentrations to competitive cyclists. The higher the concentration of salt, the less urine they produced. This shows that salt helps their bodies to retain water so they will have more fluid available to cool their bodies in the heat. However, this study showed that it did not improve their performance.

In 1942, the United States Government asked James Gamble of Harvard Medical school to set up guidelines for soldiers who must fight in the heat. His classic, impeccable experiments are still the basis for recommendations today for fluid and mineral replacements for athletes. He showed that the only mineral that needs to be replaced during exercise or other hard work in hot weather is sodium. So when you exercise in the heat, make sure that you take in extra salt, either in a sports drink or in salted foods such as peanuts or pretzels. If you are concerned about the effect of this extra salt on your blood pressure, buy a simple blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure weekly, just to make sure that you are not taking too much salt or exercising too little.


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