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nutrition

Why Hydration Is An Important Part Of Your Workout

Sweat - sweat.com
Why Hydration Is An Important Part Of Your Workout
Why Hydration Is Important

You might have heard the advice to drink at least eight glasses of water a day — but there’s actually a lot more to hydration you should consider, including how active you are and external factors like the weather. 

Being well-hydrated is fundamental to good health. If you are just starting to work out, you should be aware of your hydration needs to ensure your body’s fluids are properly replenished. 

Drinking enough water to stay 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. It is essential to stay hydrated because more than half (about 50%-70%) of your body is made up of water!

The simplest way to stay hydrated is to drink enough water for your activity levels and understand how and why fluid is depleted from your body.

What is proper hydration?

Many guidelines in countries across the world recommend drinking at least 2 litres (68 fluid oz) of water a day.

Another simple way to calculate how much water you need is to divide your body weight (in pounds) by two, and that number is how much water, in fluid ounces, you should drink each day.

It’s important to stay well-hydrated because the water inside your body aids many vital functions, such as lubricating your joints, keeping the body temperature stable and moving nutrients to where they’re needed. 

Recent studies have found that being well hydrated may also:

  • Help you sleep better
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Give you more endurance, allowing for more effective workouts

A range of factors will affect your fluid intake, including the air temperature or if you're regularly exercising.

It’s also worth considering what you’re eating — many fruits and vegetables have high water content and can help you maintain optimal hydration.

What Is Dehydration

What is dehydration?

Dehydration can happen when your body has lost more water than you’ve taken in. 

If you are dehydrated, your body’s water balance is disrupted, and your body may not function as it should. 

What are the signs of dehydration?

You may have experienced a symptom of mild dehydration before. These symptoms can include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dark urine
  • Difficulty concentrating

More severe cases of dehydration may include the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heat cramps (painful spasms in the muscles).

Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterised by:

  • Excessive sweating
  • An increased pulse and low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness 

Heatstroke is the more severe form of dehydration. Symptoms may include:

  • Lack of sweat 
  • High body temperature
  • Dry skin that feels hot to the touch. 

In extreme cases, heatstroke can lead to collapse, requiring hospitalisation and treatment with an intravenous drip.

How you lose water from your body

Sweating and heavy breathing after a fast-paced HIIT session can be a sign of an effective workout — but they’re also ways you can lose water from your body. 

Some health conditions or medications can also lead to fluid loss.

Sweating

Sweating during a workout is your body’s way of keeping cool. Your sweat glands release fluid (mainly water) which evaporates from your skin and helps to keep your body temperature stable.

Sweating is one way you lose water from your body, but exercise is not the only trigger. Sweat can be produced when you feel nervous, eat spicy foods, or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. 

The amount you sweat can also be influenced by your genetic makeup.

Breathing

How you breathe can impact hydration — your total water loss will be greater if you mostly breathe through your mouth than through your nose.

When you do a workout, you lose fluid through heavier breathing — and the fitter you are, the more you might sweat. You can also perspire more when working out in hot or humid conditions.

How To Rehydrate

How to rehydrate

Drinking water in moderate amounts throughout the day is one way to stay well-hydrated, starting with when you wake up. 

You lose water during sleep due to evaporation from your breath, so starting the day with a glass of water can help to replenish the water you lose while asleep, and get your organs working optimally as early as possible.

According to a 2007 study on Exercise and fluid replacement by the American College of Sports Medicine, you should hydrate before, during and after exercise to maintain and replace water and electrolyte levels, and to avoid dehydration. This is especially important when starting a new fitness program.

When you perspire, you lose electrolytes through your sweat. These are essential minerals, and electrolyte drinks may assist rehydration by helping the body rebalance. Smoothies can also assist in replenishing electrolytes.

While drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, some other ways you can maintain your hydration include:

Grabbing a green smoothie

Some foods like spinach or other greens include high water content, so including them in a smoothie is a great way to get extra water. 

Cucumber and mango have the added benefit of providing sweetness and coconut water is rich in electrolytes.

Drinking tea

If you rely on tea for extra hydration, green tea, chamomile, matcha and rooibos teas are good caffeine-free options. The bonus with drinking tea is that most herbal teas provide a dose of antioxidants too. 

Sipping kombucha

Kombucha is made from fermented tea and is a healthier alternative to soft drinks. It includes electrolytes and beneficial probiotics, which can be good for your gut — when choosing the store-bought kind, just be mindful of the sugar content.

Dehydration can then lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterised by:

  • Excessive sweating
  • An increased pulse and low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness 

Heatstroke is the more severe form of dehydration, and symptoms include:

  • A lack of sweat 
  • High body temperature
  • Dry skin that feels hot to the touch. 

In extreme cases, heatstroke can lead to collapse, requiring hospitalisation and treatment with an intravenous drip.

How you lose water from your body

At Sweat, we’re all about getting sweaty with workouts, and that’s one way you lose water from your body. 

Sweating

When you sweat during a workout, your body is using perspiration to keep you cool. 

Your sweat glands release fluid (mainly water) and it evaporates from your skin, which helps to keep your body temperature stable.

Sweating is one way you lose water from your body, but exercise is not the only trigger. Sweat can be produced if we’re feeling nervous, eating spicy foods, or from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. The amount we sweat can also be influenced by our genetic makeup.

There are other ways your body can lose water that may affect hydration.

Breathing

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. 

Even when you sleep, you can lose a lot of water from your body. How you breathe can also impact your hydration as water evaporation from oral breathing is, on average, 42% higher compared to nasal breathing when you sleep. 

During the day, if you were to breathe through your mouth your total water loss would be greater than that if you were breathing through your nose.

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. 

There’s more to hydration than just drinking water

Hydration is equally important as your nutrition — so take note of how much water you’re drinking during the day, including on the days you’re working out. 

If you’re unsure how much water you should be drinking, a health professional or dietician can provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle.

What are your most effective ways to rehydrate? Let us know in the comments!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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