You constantly hear about the importance of staying hydrated while exercising. However, this begs the question, just how much water should you be drinking? Read on for a closer look at the topic, along with tips for making sure you’re getting enough H20 before, during, and after your workout.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Up to 60 percent of the human body is water. This vital nutrient is essential to the life of every cell, and serves multiple functions, including acting as a “building material,” regulating internal body temperature through sweat, aiding in the metabolism and transportation of carbohydrates and proteins through the bloodstream, flushing waste through urination, acting as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord, forming saliva, and lubricating the joints, according to the USGS Water Science School.
Water is also essential to helping your body perform its best during your workout by keeping exhaustion, muscle cramps, dizziness, and other symptoms of dehydration at bay.
While everyone can agree that getting enough water matters, there’s significant debate regarding what constitutes enough. While different studies offer different recommendations, many factors go into determining how much water a particular individual needs, including perspiration — which occurs when you exercise. (If you love to swim, this also applies to you. It’s just as important to stay hydrated while in the pool. Feeling like a refreshing dip? Sign up for an Aquatic Session at Brick Bodies today.)
Are You Drinking Enough?
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules to guaranteeing hydration, but the American Council on Exercise does offer the following “hydration hints” regarding how much to drink before, during, and after exercise:
- 17 to 20 ounces two hours prior to working out
- 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising
- 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise
Additionally, a urine check offers an easy yet effective way to determine your hydration level. If your urine is clear or light in color, you’re likely well hydrated. However, you may be dehydrated if your urine is dark yellow or amber.
Getting Your H2O In
If you’re having trouble meeting your fluid intake needs, try infusing your water with fruit slices, adding coconut water ice to water, or sipping unsweetened flavored water instead. You can also up your fluid intake by “eating” your water through foods like melons, oranges, and even chicken noodle soup!
Have a sweet tooth? We’ve got good news for you. Chocolate milk has recently been heralded as the best way to hydrate following a workout. “Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high- quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and electrolytes,” reveals Brian Timmons, research director of the Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program at McMaster University.
One last thing to keep in mind is that while drinking enough water is imperative for staying hydrated, drinking too much water can have equal perils. Concludes research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, “Aggressive drinking to prevent dehydration is unnecessary and carries with it greater risk.” The takeaway? While setting daily hydration goals and meeting them every day is a simple way to stay healthy, listen to your body to avoid overdoing it. F