Sport has been ubiquitous this summer: with the Euros, Wimbledon, and now the Olympic Games receiving wall to wall coverage across newspapers, TV and the Internet. Since the Games started, it’s been nigh-on impossible to escape images of glowing athletes clutching gold medals, face-painted crowds draped in Union Jack flags or re-runs of James Bond meeting the Queen during the opening ceremony. It’s an inspirational sight: and one which is bound to pry a few couch potatoes from their cushions to get out and start exercising. The Olympic slogan – Inspire a Generation – aimed to help ignite ambition in the UK’s youngsters: but the effects are being seen across all age groups. Previously unknown sports, like handball, have been really well received by the public: who are now, in turn, ditching the TV for the track and making some effort to get fit. If you fancy running, swimming, weightlifting, cycling or indeed any of the sports featured in this international celebration of achievement, make sure you are prepared by keeping adequately hydrated. One of the biggest mistakes that first-time exercisers make is to start working out without drinking enough water beforehand. You may have already experienced the effects of dehydration whilst playing a sport. You'll certainly know it when you feel it. Dehydration often causes heavy legs, rapid heartbeat, sluggish movement, a headache and dry mouth. Water is hugely important in exercise because it regulates body temperature and allows you to sweat freely, ensuring that the body stays cool. When people exercise, particularly in hot climates, they need to keep sipping liquids throughout their exercise session, whether that's during a half-time break or whilst running and walking. Marathon runners can famously be seen making a beeline for sports cap water bottles, sipping enough to rehydrate, then pouring the rest over their heads regularly along the route. Even swimmers get dehydrated - and one of the dangers of being in the pool is that you can forget about taking water internally, despite being surrounded by so much of it! Of course, the best way to build up a long-term and valuable exercise regime, is to build activity into your daily lives. Not everyone can take time away from work to train – so finding ways to get a little exercise into your day can be great. Why not fill up at the office water coolers and go for a lunchtime walk? Try cycling to and from work. If you’re walking, take a heavy bag. You can even make your own isotonic sports drinks in the office: fill a bottle at the water cooler, add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt, and a little fresh juice for taste if you wish, and voila – an energy drink without the expense.
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