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As marching musicians, the physical demands on students' bodies are high, especially during the hot and humid months of summer rehearsals and the early competitive season. Proper hydration is critical to physical and mental health.

Contrary to popular belief, simply drinking water only when thirsty is not good advice when it comes to properly hydrating the body. When the thirst mechanism activates, it is usually a sign the body is already under-hydrated (and possibly headed toward dehydration).

Dehydration happens when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. When the body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t function properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following: dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dry mouth, lack of sweating, and hard, fast heartbeat, among others.

Research shows that student athletes and performers should follow these guidelines for hydration:
• Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before beginning exercising (rehearsing)
• Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before starting exercising (rehearsing) or during warm-up.
• Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise (rehearsal), and as designated by the teacher leading the rehearsal.
• Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise (rehearsal).

It is possible to over-hydrate; drinking excessive amounts of water in a short period of time can lead to hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. When excessive amounts of water are consumed, the sodium levels in the body become diluted, and the kidneys cannot excrete enough fluid. This causes the cells to become water logged and the brain to swell. This is a potentially life-threatening situation and requires immediate medical attention. Although hyponatremia is not common, awareness of it is important, as it is something that can easily be prevented.

Electrolytes found in sports drinks can be beneficial in regulating nerve and muscle function and replacing electrolytes lost through sweat. For adolescent athletes & perfomers enduring physical activity for more than sixty to ninety minutes at a time, or for young athletes/performers who practice in high heat and humidity, sports drinks can be beneficial in replenishing lost nutrients. The bottom line, however, is that water (pure water) is essential for an athlete to perform optimally. 
Tips for hydration success:
• Start drinking water immediately after waking up in the morning.
• Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffees, sodas, and energy drinks.
• Fruits and vegetables are 75-96% water, so eating fruits or vegetables with meals or snacks will help add to your total water intake.
• Consume liquids even when not rehearsing/exercising.

"The Importance of Good Hydration"
"The Importance of Hydration for Youth Athletes"
"Marching Health: 7 tips for Staying Hydrated and Beating the Heat"

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