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What Dancers Should Know About Staying Hydrated

It's safe to say that when it comes to "things dancers should always keep 100 percent in check," hydration reigns supreme. Not only is it key for staying energized, alert, and balanced—it can actually be dangerous to dance while dehydrated. Dance Spirit turned to Marie Scioscia, a registered dietitian with The Ailey School, and author of Eat Right Dance Right, for a hydration crash course, so you'll never be low on H2O.

Know the Causes and Signs

It's crucial to recognize why and when your body is becoming dehydrated. "Dancers lose an average of 10 to 12 cups of water from sweating and trying to maintain an optimal body temperature," says Scioscia. Other reasons for dehydration include inadequate fluid intake, or eating too much protein and not enough carbohydrates. According to Scioscia, common symptoms of dehydration include:

1. Fatigue

2. Loss of appetite

3. Flushed skin

4. Light-headedness

5. Muscle spasms

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Make an Effort

One to two bottles of water a day isn't going to cut it—especially if that day is filled with class, cross-training, and rehearsals. In addition to drinking approximately 12 to 15 cups of water a day, Scioscia recommends incorporating fruits and vegetables like oranges, melons, and salad greens into your studio snacks. Milk, juice, and tea also contribute to your overall hydration, and one cup of coffee is fine as well. Scioscia also suggests reaching for a sports drink, especially when lots of sweating is involved. "If you're dancing for more than an hour in a heated environment, something like Gatorade will help replenish the electrolytes you're losing through your sweat," she says.

Don't Push the Limits

Your body needs water every day—it helps with some pretty major things, including lubricating your joints, maintaining your temperature, and detoxifying your kidneys and liver. "Even mild dehydration can lead to an immediate loss of energy and mental focus," Scioscia says. "It's important to have a hydration plan and stick to it. It's as easy as always having your water bottle with you."

A version of this story appeared in the March 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Body Buzz: The Thirst Is Real."

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