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Why is it Important to Drink Water During Exercise?

This blog provides a list of reasons why drinking water is important before, during and after exercising and is an internal link point to the gym and spa water dispensers.

Why is it Important to Drink Water During Exercise?

It’s no secret that it’s important to stay hydrated during the day, no matter what you’re doing. But it’s more important to drink water when exercising since you are using energy and losing water intake by sweating. Here are our top reasons for the importance of hydration before, during, and after exercising, what to drink and how much.

The Importance of Hydration During Exercise

Drinking water and staying hydrated during the day is important for many reasons. Remember water takes up roughly 50-70% of your body weight, so drinking it helps to keep your body in top condition.

When working out, your body can lose a lot of water and fluid, as much as a litre or two in an hour. This is from natural body functions such as breathing, sweating, or using the bathroom. Because we sweat and breathe more during exercise, you’ll need to make sure you are drinking more and staying hydrated.

The amount you’ll need to drink will depend on your size and sweat levels, fitness levels, environment such as hot or cold weather, and the length and intensity of your workout. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you when exercising and take sips regularly.

If you don’t drink water during a workout, you can get dehydrated since you aren’t replenishing the fluids you are losing at a rapid rate.  If you don’t drink enough water when exercising you will feel a lot weaker, your muscles may start to cramp, and your performance levels will drop as you won’t have the energy to work out to your full potential.

Drinking water during exercise will help fuel your muscles and boost energy levels so you don’t feel tired as quickly, it will replenish the fluid you use to sweat which helps to control your body temperature.

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Hydration Before Exercise

While drinking water during exercise is important, make sure you are hydrated before you even start your workout. Making sure you drink plenty of water before exercise is equally important, especially in hot conditions.

If you start your workout without drinking water beforehand, you risk being dehydrated before or becoming dehydrated faster. This can lead to your body temperature getting too hot and you unable to cool yourself down, and your heart and body will have to work harder.

Hydration before exercise is important as without it your performance will be affected, and it can even lead to heat stroke in hot conditions. Making sure you are hydrated before exercise will help you get the most out of your workout and you won’t feel too overwhelmed when doing it. It can take time for your body to absorb the liquids so aim to drink around 450ml two to four hours before you exercise. Just make sure to replenish any water lost by hydrating during your workout too.

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Hydration After Exercise

After your workout, it is important to drink water because the water you drank during exercise was constantly getting used up to keep your body going and functioning at peak levels. Hydration after exercise will be extremely refreshing and will help to restore any fluid levels you’ve lost but not topped up yet, and it will even help your muscles to recover.

The sooner you drink after your workout, the better. Make sure you are drinking water because other liquids or alcoholic drinks may not be hydrating. In fact, alcoholic drinks are dehydrating, meaning that they can remove water from your body, which isn’t what you need after exercise.

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How Much Water To Drink For Exercise

It’s important to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. But how much you should drink while exercising isn’t a one rule-fits-all. It all depends on your sweat rate, the heat and humidity in the environment, and the length of your workout.

A good tip to figure out hydrated you are and what you need is the colour of your urine when you go to the toilet. Darker colours suggest you may be dehydrated or close to it, and you need to drink more. Lighter colours or even clear urine suggest you are properly hydrated.

However, for a basic guideline, you should drink about 430ml 2-4 hours before your workout, 200ml 30mins before or during a warmup, about 250ml every 10-20 mins during exercise, and a final 200ml after your workout.

What To Drink During Exercise

With a lot of sports drinks available, it can be difficult to know what you should be drinking when working out. However, the best thing to drink to stay hydrated during exercise is water. A lot of places have gym water dispensers which can be located around and near equipment. These are convenient for you to fill up your bottles with cold refreshing water without having to go far.

Staying hydrated with water during less strenuous and smaller workouts is better, as sports drinks can contain lots of added sugar and can make you less hydrated over time. However, if you are exercising for longer a sports drink can help replenish the lost fluids and contains sugar and electrolytes which will help you go for longer. Although even in longer workouts, a mix of water and sports drinks is recommended.

Avoid drinking caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, or juice at any time before, during, or after exercise. Caffeine can lead to rushes and crashes and can be dehydrating just like alcohol. Soft drinks or juice are usually high in carbohydrates and low in sodium. So, when drinking, stick to sports drinks or water for staying hydrated for exercise. If you prefer the feel of fizzy drinks, see if your gym has a sparkling water dispenser, so you can still hydrate whilst enjoying the feel of the bubbles.

Can I Drink Too Much During Exercise?

Yes, if you aren’t careful, you can drink too much during exercise. Similar to being dehydrated, drinking too much can be harmful to you. When you drink more than you lose during sweating or urinating, it can cause your body and cells to swell up. This can cause fluid retention and symptoms like bloating, headaches, feeling disoriented, or even feeling sick or vomiting.

If you start to feel these symptoms make sure you take a break from drinking and your body should work its way through it. If the pain continues seek medical advice.

The importance of staying hydrated when exercising as well as before and after is essential for a great workout and keeping your body functioning the way it should be. Make sure that you are drinking plenty before, during and after exercise, a good way to tell how hydrated you are is through your urine. Bring a refillable bottle and remember that most gyms have water dispensers for you and get your sweat on!

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