Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Healthy Habit Building Tips to Improve Your Golf Game: #1 - Hydration

In May 2013, Golf Digest published a great article describing a 42 point, six week get fit plan. Click here to see the Golf Digest plan.

We’ll be expanding on the points and adding insights and perspectives. The list was authored by Ben Shear, who trains many of the game’s top players, including Luke Donald, Jason Day and Webb Simpson. He says, “Being “fit” can mean a lot of things. It can be anything from having your best blood-pressure reading in a decade to being able to slip into a decommissioned pair of jeans again. When he says “get fit,” what he really means is get fitter.” Embrace his suggestions, and it won’t be long before you look better, feel better and, yes, play better golf.

“Drink more water. A lot more. That’s still not enough.”

Our individual need for water depends on numerous factors. Activity level, body size, environment (humidity level and altitude, most significantly), quality of health, age, and pregnancy/breastfeeding impose the most legitimate variations. In general, we want to replace the fluids we lose in a day, and intensive activity (with its accompanying sweat) will increase the amount of fluid we need. For prolonged, intensive exercise and/or significant water intake, it’s essential to balance salt/electrolytes with water. So playing golf on a hot, humid day may significantly increase the amount of water we need.

Remember that daily water consumption includes water that our bodies extract from other sources such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer, and food. That’s right, scientific research does provide evidence that other beverages and foods do contribute to our overall water intake. Even beer can have a positive impact when used in moderation. Conventional Wisdom says that these are diuretics and therefore only increase your requirement for pure water. Of course, that’s not entirely accurate, because coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages do actually add to water intake rather than detract from it. Alcohol and caffeine only become significantly diuretic in very large and otherwise dangerous amounts. Click here for Mark Sisson’s take on water consumption – MD Apple.

That said, water is the best liquid that we can consume to promote adequate hydration.

Fruits and vegetables are very good water sources as well and they can also provide on course energy during a round, especially for the important finishing holes. An apple, pear, or handful of grapes does contribute to your water consumption and will elevate blood sugar for the final holes. That sports drink which also includes salts or electrolytes is not recommended and should be discouraged but can also help during the latter stages of the round if the drink cart is not equipped with fruit.

From an overall health perspective, drink mostly water. Consume fruits and vegetables as a supplemental water source. Coffee, tea, and other beverages also contribute to water intake but don’t consider them your primary sources of water. How much water do we really need? Definitely drink water when you’re thirsty. Our thirst instinct tells us when we need to drink more water. It has been functioning for millions of years and research indicates that we are not already dehydrated when we feel thirsty. We couldn’t have survived as a species for so long if we experienced thirst “too late”. If you’re playing golf on a hot, sunny day, drink plenty of water and other fluids and consume fruits to help you stay healthy and play your best. To explore the research in more detail click here. PDF link