Should I hydrate before, during or after exercise?
The secret to great fitness isn’t just working out at every available opportunity. Finding a routine you love and looking after your body throughout is more important, and will ensure exercise remains a vital part of your lifestyle for years to come.
When it comes to looking after your body during a workout, staying hydrated should be a number one priority. Water and wellbeing, after all, go hand-in-hand.
But the question is – should you hydrate before, during, or after exercise to ensure lost fluids can be restored and your body functions at its best? Here, we explain why it’s essential to do all three, and how to hydrate at these vital stages.
Before you exercise
Many people skip this stage but hydrating before you begin is important. Dehydration can have several negative impacts on the body, and if you haven’t drunk enough water before you start your workout, it’ll show. Your temperature will increase at a faster rate and your heart will have to work much harder, both of which can limit performance and even cause issues like heat stroke.
Drink steadily throughout the day then top up your fluid levels 15 minutes before your workout. Not sure whether you’re hydrated enough? Check the colour of your urine. Urine with little or no colour is an indication of great hydration. Darker coloured urine, however, is a sign that you’re severely dehydrated.
During your workout
Fluid is lost throughout a workout and should be replenished regularly. Your body temperature, sweat loss, exercise duration and workout intensity will all result in loss of fluids. Taking a break to sip some water during your workout shouldn’t impact its success. Take time out to drink every 20 minutes to keep dehydration at bay.
How much you drink at these regular intervals depends on a number of factors. Your size can mean you need to drink more, with those who weigh more tending to sweat more than others. Your gender could also influence how much you need to drink during a workout. Men generally need more fluids to replace those lost through sweating than women.
Fitter people sweat more and earlier in the workout so may require more fluids in the first stages of their routine. Exercising in hot or humid conditions will require more fluids.
When you’ve finished
Once your workout is done and dusted, don’t forget to hydrate. The easiest way to ensure you’re replacing the fluids you’ve lost during the workout is with a simple calculation as Active describes:
“To help you determine the amount of fluid you lose during exercise, you can weigh yourself before and after exercise. For each pound lost during activity, drink 24 oz. of fluid. If your body weight increased, you have overhydrated and you should drink less fluid in future exercise sessions. After a practice or competition, drink to quench your thirst and then drink some more. Because the thirst mechanism is an inaccurate indicator of dehydration, you’ll have to monitor your urine to determine whether or not you’ve had enough.”
Water is generally all you need to hydrate quickly following a workout. But if you are exercising for more than one hour or more intensely, then boosting the sugar and electrolyte content on your water with a splash of squash and a pinch of salt can work wonders. Don’t reward yourself with a post-workout beer or wine, however. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect, which can deplete fluid levels further.
Great hydration before, during and after exercise begins with a reusable water bottle. Make sure you choose the right reusable bottle and guarantee good hydration wherever you are.