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The Real Deal on Hydration and ExerciseThe Real Deal on Hydration and Exercise

hydration and exercise

Let’s talk hydration and exercise. We all know how important it is to stay hydrated when we workout but what REALLY happens to our bodies when we drink an adequate number of fluids…or rather not enough.

First, let’s define hydration. It is the condition of having adequate fluids in the body. Being “hydrated” during exercise will vary from person to person. A range of factors including health, climate, clothing choice, intensity, and duration of activity will all effect how much one needs to meet the true definition.

If you let your fluid content drop too low, you become dehydrated. Some simple indicators of dehydration are;

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Mood change
  • Slow reaction time
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Muscle cramps
  • And in severe cases, hallucinations

With these symptoms comes the inability to exercise. Your performance may not be as good as it normally is if your cognitive function and strength are impaired. It’s important to remember that, especially when working out, if you’re sweating you need to be drinking to replace fluids lost.

How much should you be drinking?

As mentioned above, this exact amount will vary from person to person. You can use this simple calculator to figure out a baseline your body needs to take in per day to stay hydrated. Keep in mind this calculator does not consider your activity level and/or how much you sweat. To determine your proper fluid intake for exercise, use this sweat rate calculator.

What should you be drinking?

Now that we’ve covered what proper hydration is and how to determine what your body needs let’s discuss the best and worst options for staying hydrated. Yes, you can drink more than just water (although this one tops our list). Adding in natural sources of electrolytes (chemicals that regulate nerve function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity, and help rebuild damaged tissue) are important for those with active lifestyles.

Best

  • Water- we really can’t stress this one enough!
  • Coconut water- a pure and natural source of electrolytes.
  • Lemon/lime enhanced water- adds electrolytes, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Bone broth- packed with electrolytes, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Celery juice- rich in electrolytes, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Worst

  • Sports drinks- loaded with sugar, additives, and unnecessary carbohydrates.
  • Soda- packed with sugar and lack any sort of nutritional value.
  • Caffeine- a diuretic which will make you more dehydrated.

To sum up, hydration and exercise simply work better together. Your body needs fluids to stay hydrated. Without them you won’t function at your best. Be able to recognize the signs when you may be dehydrated and know how to replenish your body with the right kind of fluids. If you need a little guidance in ensuring you’re on the right track when combining hydration and exercise, contact us and let our experienced team guide you.