A little bit of extra energy and we can make it through the rest of the day - we've most likely all thought this at some point and thanks to modern lifestyles we can all get our hands on some form of it, through a sports drinks, energy drink or a classic cup of coffee.
But when does it start to become a problem and we're relying on these things to get us through the day?
Over 11 million adults across the UK, including over a quarter of all men, are consuming excessive sugar by drinking sports drinks when sitting at their office desks.
A further third of low-intensity exercisers are also unnecessarily consuming these drinks when exercising for “extra Energy”- despite not even breaking a sweat.
Commissioned by the Natural Hydration Council, the survey of over 2,000 UK adult respondents uncovered worrying attitudes towards hydration methods during exercise and trends towards frequent inappropriate use of Sports drinks – with a further 19.35 per cent admitting to consuming them when feeling generally “tired” and 18.15 per cent when they have a “hangover”.
Additional reports show that 160 million litres of Sports drinks are consumed in the UK every year, which is a surprise because the only people requiring sports drinks are “active individuals performing endurance exercise” as stated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
In contrast, despite being the optimum form of hydration and most suitable for the majority of recreational sports-participants, almost 80% of respondents forget to drink water before exercise. A further 60% don’t remember to consider their hydration levels at all after exercise and almost 30% aren’t packing water in their sports bag. Shockingly when asked what was most essential for exercise, ‘water’ sits at the bottom of the priority list ranked below ‘nice sportswear’ and ‘specialist trainers’.
Professor of Exercise and Obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, Paul Gately PhD, said: “The consumption levels and situations in which people are consuming these sports drinks are worrying. These products are designed for highly-active sportspeople and ultimately may be beneficial only for those undertaking regular high-intensity training and Performance exercise lasting for more than 45 minutes.”
“What’s even more concerning is that this insight is paired with people not drinking enough water or at the right times. This research also indicates that sports drinks are being treated as the preferred option for general hydration outside of exercise – which really should be water.”
Guidelines state that for mild to moderate exercise including swimming, golf and walking, and for any physical activity lasting less than 45 minutes, water will rehydrate adequately. In spite of this, 35 per cent of those choose sports drinks over water during exercise for “extra Energy”, 21 per cent for “better hydration”, and 20 per cent because they “prefer the taste”.
Essential water consumption is even an issue with sports-enthusiasts. Over 50 per cent of those partaking in high-intensity exercise don’t drink the recommended minimum 6-8 glasses of water a day and over 75 per cent do not remember to hydrate at all before a workout.
Age and maturity also appears to be an issue with over a fifth of 18-24 year olds waiting until they “felt sick/faint” before drinking water when exercising, with almost 90 per cent of this age group forgetting to drink water altogether during sports. In contrast, almost three quarters of 35-44 year olds are hydrating with water when working-out.
Kinvara Carey, General Manager of the Natural Hydration Council, comments: “Hydration is one of the most fundamental Health necessities and is even more important during exercise. For most people, water is the only fluid you need to hydrate as part of a healthy lifestyle and contains no sugar or calories.”
The top 5 exercise essentials ranked above water:
- Resistance bands
- Other equipment
- Sports drinks
- Sports bags
Water performs crucial roles in the body such as carrying nutrients and waste products between major organs, helping regulate body temperature, lubricating moving parts, and acting as a shock absorber. In addition, physical and cognitive Performance can suffer when hydration is poor, especially in hot, humid conditions or when exercise is prolonged.