Hydration and Exercise

70 % of the body is composed of fluids mainly water. So keeping a sufficient hydration level is important to maintain optimal body function. 

Reduction in body fluid levels can result in the following:

  • Rise in body temperature and resting heart rate. With sub normal levels of water in the body, it loses it’s ability of heat regulation thus raising core temperature and heart rate which are not healthy when sustained over a long period.  
  • You will feel exhaustion, lack of concentration and impaired decision making. 
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances. 
  • Drop in athletic performance and increased risk of cramps and injury.  

To maintain hydration , you need to consider factors like the humidity, your health( any medical conditions like Diabetes causing excess water loss through urine) , your exercise routine ( duration and intensity) . So, how much water to drink will have a different answer for different people considering the above factors. 

Thirst isn’t the most ideal indication to hydrate as it’s a signal from your body that you are already dehydrated. Color of urine can be a good guage .Pale and clear suggests sufficient hydration and dark and yellow suggests dehydration and the need to drink more fluids. 

Dehydration will give some signs like headaches, feeling of exhaustion, dry throat and lips, muscle cramps, weakness, Slowing of cognitive ability.  You may need to increase your fluid intake if you experience any of these. 

Fluid loss of more than 2 % of your body weight is enough to significantly impair the ability to execute physical and mental tasks correctly.  There is no such thing as training for performing with dehydration so you don’t need to voluntarily try dehydrating yourself to get used to it.

What to drink mid exercise

With any exercise over 60-80 minutes , you lose important salts like sodium, potassium and calcium which are responsible for muscle contraction. When you drink only water while exercising, the salts are not replaced and thus result in low salt levels percentage wise to your body fluids. This causes a reduction in athletic performance. So ideally you want to replace not just water lost but also electrolytes through a sport drink or any other simple oral rehydration formulation available at the chemist.  200 ml of water for every 15 mins of exercise is a good general guideline to keep our hydration up.   

How much water to drink after exercise

Post exercise, ideal way to rehydrate is by drinking and replacing 1.5 times the amount of water lost during exercise. The reason for this is to account for the loss of water that happens post exercise via sweating and urination. Ideally spread it over the next few hours after the workout instead of drinking it in one go. 


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