The Importance Of Hydration! By Jamie DelVecchio, D.O.
Water makes up a large percentage of the human body and is essential to keeping all of your systems healthy and functioning. There are many benefits to staying hydrated, especially in the warm summer months. It is particularly important to stay hydrated during exercise. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, muscle cramping, and can put you at risk for heat illness.
During exercise, we lose most of our water through sweating. This is increased with longer periods of exercise and warm or hot weather. We also lose a lot of electrolytes in our sweat. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium and potassium that play an important role in the function of our cells and organs. Although water is the best fluid to stay hydrated, replacing electrolytes is also important.
Two simple ways to monitor your hydration are through your urine and your weight. If your urine is a light color, you are probably adequately hydrated. If your urine is a darker yellow, you may need to drink more fluids. You can also weigh yourself before and after exercise. Any weight loss during exercise is likely due to fluid loss and should be replaced with water.
So how should we stay hydrated during exercise? Make sure to drink plenty of water before starting your exercise. It is important to be hydrated before you even begin. Drinking two glasses of water a couple hours prior to exercise is a good place to start. During exercise, we would like to take in the amount of fluid we are losing through sweat. However, that can be difficult to estimate. So, a good rule of thumb is to drink 5-10 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of exercise. If you will be exercising for more than an hour, you may want to switch to a sports drink that contains electrolytes. After exercise, the best way to replace fluid loss is with water or noncaffeinated sports drinks. When you choose a sports drink, make sure to read the label, as they can be high in sugar and sodium.
In summary, hydration is important to help our body function on a daily basis, but especially during exercise. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Listen to your body, drink when you are thirsty, and if you develop signs of dehydration, stop exercising and rehydrate.