Whether you’re a seasoned athlete training for your next event, or just getting started with a new exercise routine, staying hydrated during your workout is important. Without proper hydration, your mind and body can’t function at an optimal level. It’s crucial to replace fluids lost through sweat to prevent symptoms of dehydration, which include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and mood changes. Keep reading to learn more about why hydration matters and how to rehydrate effectively.
Why is it Important to Stay Hydrated?
Water is an essential component of the human body and performs many important functions, including regulating the body’s temperature and keeping the digestive system, brain, and organs healthy. Even small amounts of water loss can negatively affect athletic performance, so if you exercise regularly, it’s a good idea to maintain a steady supply of water in the body to avoid the unpleasant and often dangerous symptoms that come with dehydration and heat illness.
During exercise, your body produces sweat to return to its optimal temperature. You lose body fluid through sweat, and dehydration occurs when that fluid isn’t properly replenished. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, weakness, mental confusion, and even loss of consciousness. Dehydration can also lead to heat exhaustion and in more severe cases, heat stroke.
When the body is dehydrated and can’t cool itself effectively during exercise, heat illness can occur. See a doctor immediately if you have symptoms of severe dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke. The three stages of heat illness are:
- Heat cramps: Painful muscle spasms in the legs, stomach, arms, or back.
- Heat exhaustion: Feeling faint or weak, nausea, headache, fast heartbeat, low blood pressure.
- Heat stroke: The most serious heat-related illness. High body temperature, fast heartbeat, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness, or seizures.
What to Drink to Stay Hydrated During Exercise
The amount of water needed during exercise will vary based on your current level of health, how active you are, and how intense your exercise routine is. Water is typically the best way to rehydrate, although sports drinks can be helpful for replacing electrolytes lost during high-intensity exercise. If you’re an athlete or have any medical concerns, seek advice about fluid replacement from a health professional. A general guideline is to drink 17 to 20 oz. of water 2 to 3 hours before starting exercise, 8 oz. of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise, and rehydrating slowly over the next few hours after your workout, aiming to drink one and a half times the fluid lost during exercise.
One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is making sure you’re properly hydrated, especially before, during, and after exercise. We hope this guide to optimal hydration will help you prepare for your next sweat session at VASA, whether you’re planning on power lifting, trying out a cycling class, or unwinding with yoga!