Because water is an essential component for human survival, it is important to follow hydration guidelines while working out. Getting sufficient water during exercise is critical for performance, safety and health.
It is important to understand what dehydration is and why it is harmful. Dehydration occurs when there is an excessive loss of water within the body. When the body becomes dehydrated, blood volume decreases, which makes the heart work harder, putting stress on the heart. In addition, you might notice dizziness, muscle cramps, heat stroke and heat exhaustion if you’re not consuming adequate amounts of water while exercising.
Daily Water Intake
While it is important to consume water during exercise, it is equally important to consume adequate amounts of water throughout the day, every day. From your head to your toes, every part of the human body depends on water. To remain healthy and prevent dehydration, it is important to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. Individuals with higher body weights will need to drink more per day. If you find that you’re thirsty or your urine is not nearly clear, you should increase the amount of water that you drink.
Hydration While Exercising
Due to the variables involved with calculating the proper hydration levels during exercise, including sweat rate, individual water consumption, intensity of exercise, length of exercise, etc., there is no golden rule that determines the exact amount of water a person should drink while exercising. However, recommendations suggest that people should drink 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise, adding more during hot temperatures.
The longer you work out, the more water you need to consume. Likewise, consume more water for intense workouts. For example, drinking an 8 ounce glass of water should be sufficient if you are only planning to walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill. If you will be planning a more intense three-hour hike in the mountains during the month of June, you should plan to drink approximately 60 ounces of water during that time. To prevent muscle cramps and keep your body at full hydration, break frequently to drink water. However, fitness professionals recommend not drinking more than 1 cup of water every 20 minutes to prevent water intoxication.
Sample Guidelines for Hydration during Exercise
- Before Exercising: Plan to drink 20 ounces of water approximately two hours before exercising, and another 10 ounces 15 minutes prior to your workout.
- While Exercising: Plan to drink 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes during your workout.
- After Exercising: Weigh yourself prior to exercising and again afterward. Note the difference and replace the lost fluid with water with a formula of 20 ounces for every pound lost. If you experience a dry mouth, felling of thirst or dark urine, increase your water intake accordingly.