Whether you’re training for a 10k or just enjoy playing tennis with your friends on weekends, you need to stay hydrated. But many are confused by how much to drink, or even what to drink. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on staying hydrated when you exercise.
Why is hydration so important?
We know dehydration is bad (even life-threatening!) but why is it so good? Water plays a key role in regulating your body temperature, keeping joints lubricated, and delivering nutrients to your body. Without enough fluids your body will start to perform poorly. You will get tired far more quickly. Dizziness and muscle cramps can also force you to bring your workout to an abrupt halt.
How much should I drink?
It depends on the intensity and duration of your exercise, as well as how much fluid you are losing due to heat and sweat rate. The best way of checking is through your urine. If it is light yellow or almost colorless you are taking in enough water. Darker, even amber-colored urine, already indicates dehydration.
When should I start drinking water?
According to the American Council on Fitness. You should drink 20 ounces of water three hours before your exercise begins. Then take another eight ounces half an hour before your routine. Keep drinking 10 ounces of water every half hour. And, within half an hour after the end of your workout, take another eight ounces.
If you are a high performance athlete such as a marathon runner or triathlete then you need to take about 24 ounces for every pound of weight you lost after exercise. This is because any incremental weight loss after a workout is from loss of fluid.
Should I drink water or sports drinks?
Water is really the best source of fluids. Sports drinks are advisable only for those who are exercising for over an hour, since these contain potassium and nutrients that can replace any energy or electrolytes you have lost and which you may need for extended workouts.
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