Why Hydration is Important when Exercising
Updated: Aug 23, 2018
It is vital that you keep hydrated during exercise and even more so with the current heat wave we are experiencing! Read below for some more information on why it is important and my top tips to keep hydrated.
Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you are not hydrated, then your body can't perform at its highest level. You may feel tired, have muscle cramps, dizziness, or other serious symptoms.
If you are exercising intensely or for over an hour then there’s a common misunderstanding: There’s a big difference between drinking water and actually absorbing water to properly hydrate you. People are generally getting better at trying to drink more water, but it is likely that you are not absorbing enough of it as you don’t have the essential electrolytes and salts to keep it in the system. If you are urinating a lot, then you’re simply flushing your system and not allowing the body to actually absorb the essential minerals that the body needs.
Electrolytes are minerals that are ‘electric’ They include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, amongst other minerals. Our body needs electrolytes to function effectively and allow muscles to contract properly. Basically, electrolytes keep our cells, tissues, and fluids active and able to ‘communicate’ within our bodies.
Electrolyte consumption becomes more critical now the sun is out! For every workout/run/ride/walk you do your body loses potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium. This needs to be replenished as soon as possible and cannot be done with water alone.
Urine colour is the easiest way to monitor your hydration levels. Use a simple urine colour chart to help.
Drink plenty of fluids in the hours before exercise so that you are not starting your workout in a fluid deficit.
Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks before and during long duration exercise. Caffeine has a diuretic effect which increases your rate of water loss and dehydration.
Use an electrolyte powder or tablet, such as SIS, Zeros or Nuuns to help replenish spent electrolytes.
Remember - don’t wait until you feel thirsty. If you already feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated! Try to drink small amounts at regular intervals.