Source: Team Beachbody Newsletter
That little 12-ounce bottle is truly a fitness enthusiast’s best friend. After all, adequate fluid intake during a workout is essential for comfort, performance, and safety. And the longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink the right kind of fluids.
Here are 5 important things to know about hydration and exercise:
- Water works wonders. Did you know that in 1 hour of exercise, your body can lose a quart or more of water? (If you did, give yourself a big pat on the back.) It’s a fact: Water helps replenish your body because of the amount you sweat during a typical workout.Drinking water throughout your workout has a variety of other benefits too. Your muscles can start to cramp if you don’t drink enough. This is because water aids in the removal of lactic acid, which is the primary cause of muscle soreness.It also helps prevent the dreaded “D” word: dehydration.Becoming dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic performance, slowing you down and making you feel sluggish. But in extreme cases, it can also cause dizziness, heatstroke, or even death. Last time I checked, none of these seemed like appealing options.Want to make a preemptive strike against dehydration? Don’t wait until you begin your workout to get water into your system. So when should you start, you ask? Great question.
- Drink water before, during, and after your workout. Many people tend to forget about drinking before exercise, which can be another major reason for dehydration. None of the water you drink when you start working out makes it into your system quickly enough to help your body. This is why you need to drink about 15 to 20 ounces 2 to 3 hours before you work out in order to hydrate properly. (Sorry, this doesn’t include alcoholic beverages.)It’s also vital to stay hydrated while you exercise. Remember to drink 8 to 10 ounces of water approximately every 10 to 15 minutes while you work out, not just when you’re thirsty. And once you finish working out? Since your body needs to replenish the electrolytes it lost during exercise, a good sports drink will do the trick quite nicely.
- The skinny on sports drinks.Sports drinks are perfect for athletes, or those exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more. These drinks contain fluids that supply the needed calories required for continuous performance.Be careful though, as most of these drinks add extra calories from sugar, which can wind up hurting your diet if you drink too much. How’s that for a catch-22?The bottom line is there’s nothing wrong with sipping on a sports drink throughout your workout, and afterwards to replace essential electrolytes.
- Know the signs of dehydration. The first sign is thirst. I know this sounds painfully obvious, but it’s true. When the body is dehydrated, it sends a message to the brain that fluids are needed.The next sign is the ever-annoying muscle cramp. When you sweat, you lose sodium, which causes cramping of large muscle groups. People sweat at different rates, and those who sweat more are at greater risk for cramping.Next, it’s time for a little bathroom break. No, not now—during your workout.Basically, if your urine is the color of lemonade, you’re doing well. If by chance it’s leaning toward the color of apple juice, you need to reach for another glass of fluid. Other symptoms of dehydration include headache, poor concentration, fatigue, constipation, disorientation, and light-headedness.
- Tips for “wetting” your appetite.Here are a few helpful reminders to ensure that you don’t find yourself on the verge of dehydration:
- Carry a bottle. Many people find it useful to fill up a big plastic drinking bottle. If you carry it with you all day, you won’t find yourself without water when it’s time to work out. Plus everyone else is doing it, so you’ll look really trendy!
- Set a reminder. Set your watch to beep at the top of each hour, or set a periodic computer reminder so you don’t forget to drink.
- Track your progress. Keep a log of how much you drink. This will help increase awareness and help ensure you’re staying on track.
- Little by little. Whatever you drink during your workout, take it in frequent small amounts. This proven strategy guarantees that your body will absorb fluids more rapidly and effectively—leaving you energized and well hydrated.
In truth, the dangers of dehydration are real and often overlooked. However, staying hydrated before, during, and after exercise will keep your body’s engine running smoothly. You’ll be protecting your internal organs and preventing your muscles from getting damaged. I’ll drink to that!