Why Hydration Is An Important Part Of Your Workout
Why Hydration Is An Important Part Of Your Workout
Most of us have heard the adage about drinking eight glasses of water a day, but there’s more to looking after your hydration levels than a few glasses of water.
If you’re starting to work out, it’s important you are aware of your hydration needs, and ensure your body’s fluids are properly replenished.
Staying hydrated will allow you to function, and exercise, at an optimal level.
What is hydration?
Hydration is the process of replacing water lost from your body – which is important considering more than half of your body is comprised of water.
The simplest way of staying hydrated is by drinking sufficient water for your activity levels, and being aware of how and why fluid is depleted from your body.
How you lose water from your body
At SWEAT, we’re all about exercising and getting sweaty, but they’re not the only ways your body loses water.
When you do a workout, you also lose fluid through increased evaporation from heavier breathing. Some health conditions or medications can also lead to greater fluid loss, which means the amount of water you need increases.
Other factors to consider include whether you’re exercising in hot or humid conditions and your fitness level, because fitter people sometimes sweat more.
And when embarking on a new fitness program, it’s crucial to factor in hydration to your workouts and make sure you’re drinking enough water before, during and after exercise.
Why is hydration important?
The water inside your body performs many vital functions, such as lubricating your joints, keeping body temperature stable and moving nutrients to where they’re needed.
Perspiring is not the only way fluids in your body are depleted. Not getting a full night’s sleep can also leave you dehydrated and feeling lacklustre.
Additionally, staying well hydrated goes beyond maintaining an ideal balance in your body. Recent studies have found that proper hydration can help you sleep better, improve cognitive function and give you more endurance, allowing for more effective workouts.
Drinking water throughout the day, and before bed, is ideal to maintain hydration.
Symptoms of dehydration
You’ve probably experienced a symptom of mild dehydration before — feeling thirsty. Another is dark urine, and these are usually resolved by drinking water. You can also use electrolyte drinks to assist rehydration.
In more severe cases, dehydration will have more symptoms, including:
It can also lead to heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles.
Risks of dehydration
Dehydration can then lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterised by excessive sweating, an increased pulse and low blood pressure which can create lightheadedness.
Heatstroke is the more severe form of dehydration, and symptoms include a lack of sweat, high body temperature and dry skin that feels hot to the touch.
In extreme cases, heatstroke can lead to collapse, requiring hospitalisation and treatment with an intravenous drip.
Tips to aid hydration (that don’t include drinking water!)
Of course, drinking water is the foundation of good hydration. But there are other ways you can help your body hydrate too.
Get more sleep
A study published in 2018 suggests that sleep deprivation can actually cause dehydration.
That’s because a lack of sleep is connected to kidney function, and this organ plays a vital role in keeping the body hydrated. The research concluded that a shorter night’s sleep was associated with a higher chance of inadequate hydration. So consider the hydration benefits when you’re thinking about getting an early night.
Do some stretching
Another way you can aid hydration throughout your entire body is by stretching and using a foam roller. This will help keep connective tissue healthy and flexible, enabling it to be well-hydrated.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
There are lots of fruit and vegetables with high water content, so you can also eat your way to optimal hydration. Strawberries, oranges, pineapple, iceberg lettuce, celery and watermelon are good sources of fluid.
Cull your caffeine intake
Cutting back on coffee and tea can also help you keep ahead in the H2O stakes. As the caffeine found in these beverages is a diuretic, it may mean your best efforts to stay hydrated are being hampered by your daily intake of tea and coffee. Switching to herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee a few times a day could be the way to go.
What else you can do to stay hydrated
When looking at your body’s needs, try to give hydration as much consideration as you would nutrition. Make a mental note of how much water you’re drinking during the day and with meals, as well as while you’re working out during recovery.
Just as water is an essential nutrient for our bodies, think of a water bottle as an integral part of your day – and your workout.
If you’re unsure of how much water you should be drinking, your doctor or a dietician could help let you know what your body requires.
Hydration is an equation, so the more you lose, the more you need to replenish – and the best way to start is to drink that water!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.