Hydration and Exercise
A Quick Guide To Hydration During Exercise

Your body functions best when it is hydrated. Without the proper fluid intake, your body will become dehydrated. 

A lack of fluids can cause the following issues:

  • There may be a rise in your body temperature and heart rate. This is because when your body does not have enough water (hypohydration) your body cannot regulate heat properly. 
  • Feeling fatigued may be more prevalent than usual.
  • You may experience problems with motor control, decision-making abilities, and concentration. 
  • Your body’s functions may slow down, which includes gastric emptying, which can lead to an uncomfortable feeling.
  • You will not perform optimally during sports or exercise.When you are dehydrated and active in hot weather, the impact is even worse.

Exercise is the perfect time to drink plenty of fluids. Hydration should always be a top priority when you’re exercising. 

Maintaining your concentration and performance, increasing your endurance, and preventing excessive increases in your body temperature and heart rate are all benefits of drinking enough water. Hydration is key.

What Does Hydration Mean?

The amount of water you need to consume depends on a variety of factors, including the weather, your health, your clothing, and the amount of exercise you perform. Keeping well hydrated depends on each individual as well as their circumstances.

You may need more fluid if:

  • You sweat profusely
  • You have diabetes or heart disease
  • You have cystic fibrosis, your sweat has a high sodium level 
  • You are using a treatment that can cause your body to lose more fluid because it acts as a diuretic
  • You have a bigger body size
  • You exercise vigorously
  • You are fit
  • You are active during hot and humid weather

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that your body needs water. It is likely that you are already dehydrated if you feel thirsty.

Your urine’s colour is a good indicator of dehydration. Your urine should be pale and clear if you’re well hydrated. Dark urine indicates you need more fluid.

The lack of sweat during vigorous activity, when you would expect to sweat, is another sign of dehydration. The absence of sweat is an indication of both dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Hydration during exercise

What Does Dehydration Mean?

When your body’s water content is too low, you are dehydrated. Here are some signs that you aren’t drinking enough fluid:

  • Migraines
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in mood
  • A slow reaction time
  • Nose passages are dry
  • Cracked or dry lips
  • Urine that is dark coloured
  • Cramping muscles
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Having difficulty understanding
  • Experiences of hallucination

Rehydrating will improve your physical and mental performance. It takes only a loss of fluid equal to 2% of body mass (for example, 1.4 kg in a 70 kg person) to cause a noticeable decrease in performance. Fluid loss of more than 2% can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastro-intestinal problems. 

There is no way to train your body to handle dehydration, so don’t delay fluid replacement in an attempt to ‘get used to’ dehydration. Make sure you drink enough water.

Dehydration And Sweat

Sweating occurs when your body tries to return to its optimal temperature during and after exercising. During the evaporation of sweat from your skin, heat is removed from your body, but fluid is also lost. 

In order to replace the fluids you lose during exercise, you need to drink fluids. As a result, you’ll reduce the risk of heat stress, maintain normal body function, and maintain your performance level. If you’re sweating, you need to drink fluids.

During exercise, one can drink too much water. It can be useful to know your sweat rate so you don’t over hydrate or under hydrate. This way, you’ll know exactly how much fluid you should drink. Alternatively, you can check with your GP.

Sweat when exercising

How To Calculate Your Sweat Rate

  1. Make sure your bladder is empty.
  2. When you start exercising, weigh yourself in minimal clothing (this is your initial weight).
  3. Measure the temperature in your surroundings.
  4. Do your exercise.
  5. During your exercise session, record how much fluid you consumed. 
  6. Calculate (or measure!) your urine loss during exercise. 
  7. Then reweigh yourself at the end of your session, in the same clothes you wore earlier. Towel off any sweat from your body before weighing yourself again (your final weight).

During exercise, your weight change, plus any fluids consumed, minus any urine losses represent your total fluid loss. 

How to calculate:

  1. Deduct your initial weight from your final weight.
  2. Add the weight of fluid you consumed while exercising (in kilograms).
  3. Subtract the weight of fluid you lost by urinating (in kg).
  4. Divide it by the number of hours you spent exercising to convert it to an hourly rate. 

[Initial weight (kg) – final weight (kg) + fluid (kg*) – urine (kg)] / time (hrs) = sweat rate (L/hr)

(*One kilogram is equivalent to one litre of water or urine.)

The sweat rate represents the amount of sweat you produce when exercising at a particular temperature. Temperature affects your sweat rate, so you can measure your sweat rate at different times of the year.

What To Drink During Exercise

To satisfy thirst and replace fluid lost during exercise, water is the best drink. You should also drink water before you begin exercising. 

There are many benefits to drinking water. Aside from being natural, free, and readily available, it contains fluoride, which is good for your teeth. 

What Not To Drink During Exercise

When exercising, some fluids should not be consumed:

Drink with high sugar content. Fluids including soda, energy drinks, soft drinks, and juices should be avoided. Soft drinks usually contain high levels of carbohydrates and sodium. 

Coffee. Coffee is a diuretic (it causes you to pass more urine, causing you to lose more fluid).

Getting Enough Fluids After Exercise

Rehydrate adequately after exercise by drinking one and a half times the volume of fluid you lost. But try not to drink everything at once. Spread it out over a period of two to six hours.

Because you continue to lose fluid through sweating and urination for some time after you finish exercising, you should drink more fluid than you lost while exercising.

And that’s it. Happy exercising!

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