If you think drinking water during a workout is just about keeping your mouth from drying out as you pant your way through each set, think again. In addition to keeping you comfortable, staying hydrated is a necessary aspect of any healthy workout.
Your body is composed of 60 percent water, but on average, you lose 2-5 percent of your body weight from water loss every time you work out.
Once you get into your workout groove, you may find it hard to stop, even for a water break. What you may not realize is that water is an essential nutrient that keeps your muscles primed, blood flowing and the nerves in your brain firing. Taking a break to replace what you lose while exercising is actually a good way to keep your workout going.
The evaporation of sweat helps cool the body during exercise, but this diminishing hydration can lead to poor performance and even possible injury. Make the most of your workout and stay fit with these helpful hydration tips from the Army National Guard’s “Guard Your Health” campaign:
Cool, plain water is the best drink to replace the fluid lost as sweat and help regulate your core body temperature.
Plan to drink water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration and help enhance performance. Sip a 16-ounce bottle of water every hour while working out.
Outdoor workouts require extra hydration, even during cooler weather. The water content in your skin helps it perform its protective functions, including limiting damage from the sun. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after any time spent in the sun.
Learn to recognize signs of dehydration, so you can take steps to reverse it. Early signs include muscle cramps and fatigue, while a dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, slurred speech and confusion all signal advancing dehydration. If your extremities become swollen or you become feverish, medical attention is necessary.
Another way to check your hydration level is by monitoring your urination. Urine should be clear or light yellow, and you should urinate every two to four hours.
If you find yourself dehydrated and water isn’t available, a melon, orange, celery, cucumber or bell pepper can help replenish your body’s water content.
Make it a post-workout practice to replenish electrolytes with a banana, dates or coconut water.
It’s important for everyday health to keep well-hydrated away from the gym, too. Staying properly hydrated helps regulate your body temperature, weight and mood. Keep a refillable bottle of water with you wherever you go, and if you need a touch of flavor, add lemon, lime, pineapple or cucumber for a refreshing twist. Aim to drink 50-75 percent of your body weight in ounces of water each day to stay hydrated.