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Does Drinking Soda Hurt Cardiovascular Endurance?

By Kathryn Gilhuly

The sugar in sweetened soda has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, all of which can impact cardiovascular endurance. Consumption of soda also can cause kidney issues, which can indirectly decrease endurance. Caffeine in soda and other substances may boost short-term athletic endurance, but water and sports drinks are better choices to keep you hydrated.

Heart Health

If you’re very active, you might not worry about the calories -- about 135 per can -- in sweetened soda. A person weighing 160 pounds can burn off the calories in three cans of soda by jogging or playing basketball for one hour, but the sugar can elevate your triglycerides, a type of fat that clogs your arteries and makes you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. The American Heart Association recommends you drink no more than three servings of soda per week and limit daily consumption to all types of added sugar to no more than 5 percent of your daily total -- about 100 calories for women and 150 calories for men.

Caffeine

For short-term cardiovascular endurance, soda with caffeine might give you a boost. C.A. Astorino, a researcher in the department of kinesiology at California State University San Marcos, reviewed 17 studies on the effects of caffeine on team sports and power-based sports. Eleven of the studies found caffeine improved endurance but mostly among elite athletes who did not regularly consume caffeine. Six studies found caffeine significantly improved resistance training, according to the report published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in January 2010.

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Kidney Disease

Your overall health will affect cardiovascular endurance. A variety of studies link the consumption of soda to kidney disease, including kidney failure. A study of more than 15,000 patients found that drinking two or more sodas daily could more than double the risk of developing kidney disease, according to research led by A.S. Bomback of the Department of Medicine at Columbia University. Bomback’s report, published in the August 2010 edition of “Kidney International,” said high-fructose corn syrup in soda may be to blame. Phosphorus in cola and other dark-colored soda may worsen kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Hydration

Staying hydrated will increase your cardiovascular endurance. The American Dietetic Association recommends water and sports drinks. The ADA suggests drinking water before, during and after moderate activity of 60 minutes or less and consuming sports drinks for moderate- to high-intensity exercise that lasts longer than an hour. If you sweat heavily during exercise, add salt to your sports drink or eat salty foods before your workout, according to the ADA. Besides water and sports drinks, soup and vegetable juice can help you rehydrate after exercise.

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