Staying Hydrated While Working Out

It may not be a secret that staying hydrated while exercising is important, but most people fail to understand exactly why it’s important to avoid dehydration or even how to stay properly hydrated. In fact, proper hydration is one of the most vital elements of any type of physical activity.

Giving your body the right amount and right type of fluids before as well as during and following physical activity is essential to helping your body perform properly.

the importance of drinking enough water

The overall goal of hydration is to is keep the risk of dehydration low without drinking too many fluids. It must be noted that every individual and situation is different. Consequently, sufficient hydration will vary based on the individual. For this reason, it’s important to monitor hydration.

This can be done by monitoring urine color, particularly the first urine of the morning, which can serve as an excellent indicator of hydration status. Lemonade colored urine is typically a sign of sufficient hydration. Dark-colored urine; however, usually indicates dehydration.

Dehydration can occur in practically any type of physical activity. Even if the weather is not hot, you could easily become dehydrated. You do not even need to be visibly perspiring to become dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when you fail to replace fluid lost through sweating. Performance can be affected by dehydration that exceeds two percent of your body weight.

Fluid loss through sweat can be increased by the following:

  • Air temperature-The greater the temperature, the greater your sweat loss will likely be.
  • Body size and gender-Individuals weighing more tend to sweat more. Additionally, men usually sweat more than women
  • The intensity of workout-The harder you work out, the more you will likely perspire
  • Duration of workout-The longer you work out, the more fluid you will lose
  • Fitness-A well-trained athlete will generally sweat more than someone who is less fit. This is because a well-trained athlete will be able to cool more efficiently through sweat because his or her body is accustomed to the additional stress.

It is even possible to become dehydrated when in the water. The danger to water-related physical activity, including swimming, is that you might not notice how much you are perspiring because you are in the water.

For this reason, it’s vital that you take steps to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after any type of physical activity, including swimming. This is important even if you do not feel as though you are thirsty.

Staying properly hydrated is also vital for overall heart health, as proper hydration assists the heart in pumping blood through the blood vessels to the muscles more easily. Essentially, if you are properly hydrated, the heart will not have to work as hard.

Dehydration can actually lead to serious health conditions, including swollen feet, headaches, and even heat stroke.

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Dehydration

Early warning signs of dehydration can include:

  • Thirst-If you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated
  • Premature fatigue
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster pulse rate and breathing
  • Decreased exercise capacity

As the situation progresses, later signs of dehydration may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Labored breathing with exercise
  • Increased weakness

dehydration symptoms

Proper Fluid Replacement

Replacing fluids lost during physical activity is essential to promoting sufficient hydration. Drinking fluids is the only way to properly rehydrate the body and keep it cool from the inside out. While many people rely on sports drinks, these beverages should only be used when participating in moderate-to-high intensity exercise of an hour or longer. Otherwise, water is the best beverage to keep the body hydrated.

The amount of water you need to consume will vary based on the individual, climatic conditions, and the intensity and duration of the exercise. For example, someone who sweats more heavily would need to consume more water than someone who does not perspire as much.

Furthermore, individuals with certain medical conditions, including heart disease or diabetes, might need to drink more water. Certain medications can also cause you to lose more fluid, which could mean you may need to drink more water if you take those medications.

A great way to determine how much fluid you require is to weigh before and after working out to determine how much fluid you have lost through sweating. This can be particularly helpful for athletes working out during the summer months. The general rule of thumb is to replenish every pound of sweat you lose with a pint of water. Other great sources of water include fruits and vegetables.

dehydration effects

It’s better to avoid sugary drinks and fruit juices that contain a lot of sugar and can be hard on the stomach. Caffeinated beverages should also be avoided, as such drinks act as a diuretic and can actually cause even more fluid loss.

The Bottom Line

Failure to properly hydrate the body can impact your overall performance. If you become dehydrated, you may find your alertness suffering. Hydration also prevents the body from becoming overheated and can even help to keep your muscles loose, which can prevent cramping and protect you from injury. Ensuring you stay properly hydrated is a must to getting the most from your workout.