photo courtesy Irish Times

With the World Irish Dancing Championships quickly approaching, thoughts of staying healthy and ready for performance are on the minds of many Irish dancers and their families.  

Airplane travel and the change in altitude should be a concern for athletes heading to competition, especially Irish dancers heading to Belfast for the next major international Irish dancing competition.

High altitudes when flying mean lower air pressure which can lead to extra moisture evaporating from the skin and lungs.  Staying hydrated is a must!  If you have traveled on a plane in the last ten years, you know you cannot bring bottled liquids of more than 3 ounces through security inspection.  Fortunately, you can purchase drinks once you are through security that you can bring on the plane, or save a few dollars by waiting to get the complimentary beverages offered by the airline.

There are two rules of thumb for estimating basic fluid needs.  

Rule #1 – Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.  This will give you an idea of the number of ounces of water you need.  For example, a 110 pound dancer will need at least 55 ounces of fluid (preferably water) every day.  

Rule #2 – Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2.  This will give you your weight in kilograms.  Multiply that by 30.  This will estimate your fluid needs in milliliters.  Then convert to ounces.  An easy way to make the conversion is to use an online conversion calculator.  

For example, a 110 pound dancer will weigh 50 kilograms.  Multiply by 30 to estimate fluid needs at 1500 milliliters.  The conversion to ounces makes that 51 ounces.   Airlines will offer both caffeinated and decaffeinated beverages.  Caffeine can be very dehydrating.  It is best to drink water, juice, decaf soda, or decaf tea/coffee.  When faced with a choice, always choose water!
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Healthy snacks are also important for long flights, and travelers cannot be certain that the airline will offer complimentary snacks or appropriate food options.  Keep in mind that an appropriate snack is one that will provide both a carbohydrate and a protein source.  The protein helps to slow down the rapid rise and drop in blood sugar.   

Optimal performance requires a steady blood sugar, not one that rises then drops too quickly. Foods that travel well are trail mixes, nuts and dried fruit or chocolate, flavored mini rice cakes and individual size peanut butter packets.  I am particularly fond of Emerald's “Breakfast on the Go” which contains nuts, dried fruit, yogurt balls, and granola.  It comes in individual serving size packages, making them easy for travel.  Nuts, cheese sticks, rice crackers, raisins and other dried fruits make tasty and easy appropriate snacks. 

Have a great time in Northern Ireland!
Bookmark this page and check back here on Irish Central's Irish dance page for timely updates and news from Belfast - every day this week look for previews of what's ahead at Worlds!