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.
Being well-hydrated is fundamental to good health. 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.
Drinking enough water to stay hydrated will allow you to function, and exercise, at an optimal level.
- What is hydration?
- What is proper hydration?
- What is dehydration?
- What are the signs of dehydration?
- How to rehydrate
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.
What is proper hydration?
Another way to view hydration is to consider that being well-hydrated means the body is in water homeostasis — a state of water balance.
That means your body has enough water to work at its best.
It’s important to stay well-hydrated because 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 being well hydrated may:
- Help you sleep better
- Improve cognitive function
- Give you more endurance, allowing for more effective workouts
Drinking water throughout the day, and before bed, is ideal to maintain hydration.
Recommended water intake
Many guidelines in different 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 be drinking.
There may be a range of factors to consider for your fluid intake. For instance, if it’s hot or you’re exercising a lot, you’ll need to drink more water.
Alongside your fluid intake, it’s worth considering what you’re eating too. Many fruit and vegetables have high water content and can help maintain optimal hydration.
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 may not function as normal.
What are the signs of dehydration?
You may have experienced a symptom of mild dehydration before. They can include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark urine
- Difficulty concentrating
In more severe cases, dehydration will have more symptoms, including:
- Heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles.
Dehydration can then lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterised by:
- Excessive sweating
- An increased pulse and low blood pressure
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, and that’s one way you lose water from your body.
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.
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.
How to rehydrate
Drinking water in moderate amounts throughout the day is one way to stay well-hydrated, starting with when you wake up.
That’s because you lose a lot of water during sleep due to evaporation from breath. So starting the day with a big glass of water can help to replenish the water you lose while asleep, and get your organs working optimally as early as possible.
If you’ve lost water through exercise, rehydration after a workout may be as simple as drinking water. That can also be the case even in cases of mild dehydration.
When you perspire, you also lose electrolytes through your sweat. These are essential minerals, and electrolyte drinks may assist rehydration by helping the body rebalance.
You can buy electrolyte drinks or powders that dissolve in water, but if you want to make one, smoothies can assist in replenishing electrolytes.
While drinking water is definitely the best way to stay hydrated, some other ways you can keep up your hydration include:
To increase your fluid intake, you can reach for a cup of tea. You simply need to be aware of which teas are best if you are relying on it for extra hydration. Green tea and chamomile are good choices, or try rooibos teas for caffeine-free options. When you drink tea, you also get a dose of antioxidants.
You can also try a matcha iced tea, one of the great ways to use matcha AND get some more water into your day.
Grabbing a green smoothie
Some foods are more hydrating than others, so adding those to a smoothie is a great way of getting some extra water. Try adding spinach or other greens to your smoothie, as well as cucumber and some mango for a bit of sweetness. If you use coconut water for the liquid base, you get some extra electrolytes as well.
If cutting back on soft drink is out of the question for you, you can try switching to kombucha. Made from fermented tea, kombucha can satisfy a sweet craving with less sugar than a standard soft drink. It has some beneficial probiotics, which can be good for your gut, and it does have electrolytes as well. Because it is made from tea, kombucha does have some hydrating benefits, just be mindful of the sugar content.
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.