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Fuel your body correctly for exercise

A man drinking water after exercise

Diet

It’s important to start eating well if you’re doing regular exercise. You’ll need plenty of energy, which you can get from eating lots of carbohydrates.

If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates you’ll get fatigued easily. Fatigue can affect your technique as your muscles get tired and respond more slowly, altering the timing of your movements. This in turn may increase your risk of injury.

A healthy balanced diet should also contain protein, which is the main building block for your body and is essential for growth and repair. You should increase your protein intake if you’re regularly lifting heavy weights or building up your muscle strength to prepare for sport.

If you’re trying to lose weight, try to reduce the fat content of your diet but keep eating the same amount of carbohydrates. Always check the labels of your food and keep an eye on your recommended daily allowances of fats, protein, carbohydrates and salt.

Hydration

Not drinking enough will cause dehydration. Dehydration can harm your performance (leading to injury risk), and so you should drink about ¼ pint of fluid 15 minutes before exercise and then regularly pause during activity to drink more, drinking more often if the intensity of your exercise increases or if you begin to sweat more. This is especially important if you’re exercising in a hot environment, either outside on a sunny day or in a gym. However, it’s important that you don’t drink too much for the level of activity you’re doing, as this can cause over-hydration (hyponatraemia), which can be very serious.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
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