If you exercise regularly, maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential to performance. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.
In a dehydrated state, your body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water, you'll lack energy, and your muscles may develop cramps. Here in the desert, you're losing water due to extreme temperatures even when you're not exercising.
To prevent dehydration, exercisers must drink before, during and after a workout.
Fluid balance and replenishment
It's important to drink even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. Drink more than your thirst demands and continue to drink throughout the day.
One way to check your hydration level is to monitor your urine. It should be plentiful and pale yellow unless you're taking supplements, which will darken the color for several hours after you've taken them.
During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, although sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes during high-intensity exercise exceeding 45 to 60 minutes. If you sweat profusely during exercise and your sweat contains a high amount of sodium (you may notice salt stains/rings on your athletic wear), choose sports drinks and ensure that your diet contains adequate sodium to prevent hyponatremia (water intoxication).
Contrary to popular belief, scientific evidence suggests that moderate caffeine intake doesn't compromise exercise performance or hydration status. However, alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery from exercise and negatively affect a variety of performance variables.
It's easy to prevent dehydration with a variety of refreshing beverages, so drink up!
- Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before you start to exercise
- Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up
- Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
- Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising
- Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise
- Rehydration occurs faster in the presence of sodium, whether you get it in a sports drink or in food