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Nutrition: Playing Tennis in the Heat: How to Manage Water and Electrolyte Losses

Your body produces heat during tennis -- lots of it!  And as intensity and duration of play increase, you face an growing challenge to eliminate the accumulating heat, especially in hot weather.  The best way for a tennis player to get rid of internal body heat during play is by sweating.  But if it’s hot and humid, even sweating doesn’t eliminate heat effectively.

In warm to hot conditions, most adult tennis players will lose between 1.0 and 2.5 liters of water during each hour of competitive singles, although sweat rates of 3.5 liters per hour have been observed during play in very hot (above 95° F) conditions.  Sweat rate increases as: 

1. the environment gets hotter and more humid,
2. as intensity of play increases, and
3. as a player becomes more aerobically fit and acclimatizes to the heat. 

And although women generally sweat less than men, this is not always the case.

Sweat is mostly water, but it contains a fair amount of sodium (Na ) and chloride (Cl-).  In contrast, there is usually very little potassium (K ) in sweat.  Furthermore, contrary to what many tennis players and coaches have heard, clinical evidence clearly supports a relationship between heat-related muscle cramps and a high sodium loss, not potassium.  Players will generally lose 3-10 times Read More

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