When you exercise, your body loses water through sweat, which is used to keep your body cool. As many people often do not drink enough water a day, even when inactive, it is especially vital to regularly drink water while exercising in order to ensure you are maintaining proper fluid balance in your body. You must properly hydrate before, during and after a workout.
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How Does Water Replenish?
Drinking water helps to not only restore any lost water or sodium that can occur during a workout, water also helps to regulate the body's temperature. This is especially helpful when a person is exercising during extremely warm temperatures, either indoors or outdoors. As a person ages, the aging body becomes less able to regulate temperature, making drinking water that much more important. While it is important to drink water during and after exercising, don't forget to drink water before you exercise as well.
Level of Exercise
How much water you drink often is dependent upon how long and how strenuous your exercise program is. If you exercise strenuously, you should drink 1 cup of water every 15 minutes of exercise. If you are performing moderate exercise, 1/2 cup every 15 minutes should be sufficient.
Another rule of thumb is to weigh yourself prior to exercising, then weigh yourself post-exercise. If you find that you have lost pounds following exercise, you should drink 2 1/2 cups for every pound lost during exercise, according to AARP.org.
What Kind of Water Do You Need?
Many people utilize sports drinks as a replacement for plain water while exercising. Sports drinks do have some merit as they contain electrolytes, which often are lost through sweat during exercise. Sports drinks also are useful for very strenuous exercisers who are exercising for more than 45 minutes, according to AARP.org. For those exercising less than 45 minutes, water is the best choice for hydration as it has no calories, is less expensive, and is more readily available than sports drinks.
How Much Is Too Much?
While it may seem surprising, it is possible to overhydrate the body, a condition which is known as water intoxication. Excessive consumption of water leads to decreased salt in the blood, which is needed for many bodily functions. Water intoxication symptoms include dizziness, nausea, apathy and confusion. If you experience any of these while exercising, seek treatment at an emergency room.
On days that you exercise, try the following schedule for drinking enough water: when you wake up, drink 1 to 2 cups (8 ounces) of water. Continue drinking water throughout the day, but drink 1 to 2 cups of water at least 30 minutes prior to exercising. While you are working out, drink 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 minutes. Following your workout, keep drinking water even if you no longer feel thirsty.