Dehydration happens when your body does not have enough fluids that it affects bodily functions. While we drink liquids from time to time, water is also excreted through sweat, urine, and in our bowels. Losing more fluid than what you drink brings chaos to your body that signs and symptoms will start to show gradually. Increased thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, dark, and decreased urine are few signs to watch out for.
Why should you stay hydrated?
Prolonged exercise without a proper drink regimen is a few of the reasons why a person can be dehydrated. Water is essential in regulating the body’s temperature especially when it’s on heat because you’re moving. It transports the nutrients needed by your body and lubricates your joints. If without enough water level, the volume of blood pumped by the heart is reduced. Less oxygen is being transported to the muscles, and the brain causing fatigue or light-headedness. During exercise, restlessness and muscle cramps may add up as well. The severe form includes organ failure and coma due to an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen.
The good news is, this can be prevented with good hydration. Water is our body’s ultimate ally in fighting fatigue and bringing endurance to the workout routine. In fact, Dr. Calson, the director of performance nutrition for Athletes’ Performance says when you lose just 2% of your body weight, your performance is affected by 25%. This is how essential water is in keeping the optimum performance of an individual. So it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or a beginner. If you want to stay on top of your game, you have to stay hydrated and plan it out.
How much should you drink?
On regular days, drinking more than 7 glasses a day should replenish the water leaving our body. What more if you are on a vigorous workout? According to a health coach, fitness enthusiasts should drink more since they are constantly draining the body’s water level. Just like a diet, there is no universal amount to determine how much a person should drink every time he/she has to work out. Sports coaches would check for sweat rate, the internal and external temperature of the environment, and your fitness level to come up with a customized hydration regimen for you. For practical purposes, here’s the American Council on Exercise’s take on how much to drink while exercising.
Before your workout: Drink about 2 glasses of water two hours before your exercise.
During exercise: Sip occasionally and try to intake the content of one and a half glasses, but do it every 10 to 20 minutes
After exercise: Drink 1 glass of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise
How do you stay hydrated?
Knowing why you should hydrate and how much to take leads to an even greater challenge. How do you keep yourself hydrated while moving, and being in the workout zone? Here’s how:
1. Create a hydration regimen
Planning ahead conditions your mind and body. Include in your exercise plan the hydration strategy you will need. For example, if you will be running, better to bring a hydration backpack instead of the water bottle so it won’t affect your arm momentum. If you will be doing Crossfit training, consider the hydration time scheduled by the coach, so you can be aligned. Make use of the hydration apps to help you organize your workout and hydration plan. If you’re a tech-savvy person and wanted to have a digital record of your fitness journey, then maximize that phone. Log the amount of water you need to take, set a reminder when to take it, and voila! You just basically upped your water regimen. Creating a plan is worth it. It will challenge and remind you how committed you are to your goals.
2. Choose your drink carefully
Supermarkets offer a varied, colorful sports drinks on their shelves for fitness enthusiasts like you. Be careful when choosing your drink because you might end up more dehydrated than rehydrated. Water-enhancing electrolyte tablets, low-sugar sports drinks, or coconut water are a few options you can choose if you want a more varied drink. Focus on electrolyte-giving fluids as it enhances the absorption of water in the bloodstream and gives the body the essential minerals it needs. Flavored sports drinks help some people maintain hydration because the flavor encourages them to sip more and more. Just be cognizant of what you have on your drink because you might be sipping more of the bad ingredients. And finally, don’t get attracted to the bubble and fizz of carbonated drinks as it leads to an upset stomach.
3. Sip small
Proper hydration also includes the manner on how you drink your fluids. While tempting as it is to gulp a bottle of water while exercising, sipping small is recommended. Small sips give time for the body to process the fluid during a workout. According to a study, with consistent sipping, trips to the bathroom are lowered versus when you gulp a big one. It still produces the same water balance but there’s a huge difference in the urine flow. Taking a large amount of water each time also takes a toll on the pelvic floor causing pain, and low back pain.
4. Bring a hydration pack or water bottle
They say don’t come to war unprepared. Bringing a hydration pack or water bottle should be essential during the workout. Knowing you have something with you to quench your thirst is a relief to preventing dehydration. Keep your hydration pack or water bottles at bay so you can be reminded when your mouth starts to feel like a Sahara desert. Also, some water bottles have volumetric marks on them, maximize these, and be challenged to reach each line within your scheduled hydration plan.
Prevention is better than cure is a cliche yet applicable in many complications. Dehydration can be prevented with a combination of doable tasks even when you’re on the move. By being hydrated, you help your body and your heart do their work without the added effort. Staying hydrated while exercising may be challenging but the creation of habit and well-thought plan can surpass this. It is known that well-hydrated fitness enthusiasts can effectively carry out a workout routine. Building a hydration habit starts with simple steps but you need to keep it moving.