For an athlete preparing for a sports event or a marathon, staying healthy is of paramount importance. The preparation has to begin months in advance, so that when the day actually rolls in, they are able to perform to the best of their ability. Besides regular practice, eating well and taking good rest is also important. The most essential thing, however, is building stamina, and for this, intake of salt is said to be beneficial. Here is what science says.
When you run a long distance, or engage in any kind of physical activity, you sweat a lot and lose electrolytes from the body. And if you do not replace them, you can get dehydrated. This is when salt plays an important role. Science says that it can increase your running speed and also boost your performance.
According to a study published in the journal Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, taking a salt supplement or eating salty nuts while in preparation for a marathon, can be quite helpful. The researchers who conducted the study, studied the effects of salt and salt supplements on people competing in a half triathlon. The participants were divided into two groups and given sports drink and salt capsules, and sports drink and placebo capsules, respectively. It was found that in the end, the group that consumed real salt capsules could finish the race roughly 26 minutes faster than the other group.
How salt works
It should be noted that while salt has a bad reputation, what with studies suggesting that excessive sodium can increase the blood pressure and cause heart diseases and even stroke, if consumed in a proper way, it can actually help the body. When we sweat during sports events and lose electrolytes, we start to feel exhausted. Our speed automatically decreases. So, while for a short sprint event, a sports drink can keep us going, when we are running longer distances, it is better to have salty nuts so as to keep the speed and energy steady. But, remember that the amount of salt always depends on how much you sweat, your speed and the distance that you have to run.