There’s one mantra that everyone swears by – STAY HYDRATED. With 60% (approx.) of our body being water, humans are walking, talking, breathing water bodies. And this itself underscores the importance of water intake. Majority of our daily functioning of organs and joints is based on water. It is when you’re dehydrated that you start feeling sick / down. One activity when your body is prone to excessive dehydration is Workout. And hence, I cannot emphasize enough about the need to hydrate when you exercise.
Today, let’s explore this fact in detail to understand it better.
Why is Hydration Important?
Simple – Your body needs water to survive. Every cell, tissue or organ depends on water for its healthy (or even normal) functioning. Staying hydrated ensures you have enough fluids in your body to maintain the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation.
This is how water positively affects your mind, body, skin and hair health –
- Better Energy and Improved Productivity – Dehydration can cause fatigue and significantly reduce brain function. If you’re feeling unusually drowsy, drink a glass of water to boost oxygen flow to your brain.
- Improved Physical Health – Water lubricates joints, provides nutrition to the cells surrounding the muscles, and prevent muscle fatigue. With enough oxygen absorption from water, skin also appears fresher and supple. It’s moisturized and supple with within.
- Healthier Cardiovascular System – When you are dehydrated, you heart works twice as harder to pump blood to get enough oxygen to your cells. Adequate hydration ensures there’s enough liquid to carry the oxygen.
- Controlled Appetite – Many times we confuse thirst with hunger and tend to overeat. Consuming water and waiting for 10-15 mins will help you figure if it was your true physical hunger or if your body had to be watered. Also, consuming water before a meal will make you feel less empty and you end up consuming fewer calories.
- Mood Booster – When your body is hydrated, it’s performing its best which helps put you in a good mood. If you notice yourself slipping into a negative mood, drinking water can help.
- Headache Prevention – Headaches are often due to dehydration and can be relieved by drinking water. It’s important to stay hydrated to avoid headaches and migraines, particularly if you are prone to getting them.
- Thorough Detox – Your kidneys need water to filter waste from the blood and excrete it in urine. Keeping hydrated may also help prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. If you are severely dehydrated, your kidneys may stop working, causing toxins to build up in your body.
- Water cools down your body – Your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin’s surface (this is why your face gets red during exercise), resulting in more blood flow and more heat dissipated into the air. When you’re dehydrated, however, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger blood vessels to widen, so you stay hotter.
How do Workouts Dehydrate us?
- When you work out, you first run short of breath (oxygen) and your body is need of more oxygen. Therefore, your heart works harder to pump blood throughout the body, so every cell gets the required oxygen.
- Secondly, along with this you also sweat. A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease of physical and mental performance.
- Third, your body temperature rises and so you get further drained out.
- Finally, your body is overworking itself to create energy. And burning up all fluids in this process as a fuel to run your machinery (body).
What Happens if you’re Dehydrated During Workouts?
When it comes to your workouts, being mildly to moderately dehydrated can negatively impact your performance in a few ways that you might not even realize.
- When you work out, the carbs and fats stored in our body are converted into energy and this process is hindered without enough water. This causes severe muscle fatigue and tiredness. This way, even the fat burning process is hindered.
- Dehydration during workouts may cause a reduction in blood volume, decreased skin blood flow, decreased sweat rate, decreased heat dissipation, increased core temperature and an increased rate of glycogen use.
- Sometimes, it leads to severe dehydration, a medical emergency, and can lead to heat stroke, kidney failure, and seizures if it’s not treated properly.
How to Stay Hydrated throughout your Exercise
Thankfully, all of these complications can be completely avoided with one simple practice – Drinking water (before, during and after the workouts)
- Pre-Workout Hydration – Ensure you drink at least 2-3 cups of water at least 30 minutes prior to beginning the workout. You can also have 100% vegetable juices and non-fat milk (1 cup) to stay hydrated.
- During Workout Hydration – Keep sipping water through the routine. If you’re exercising in sets, ensure you drink 4-5 sips after every set (or you may even take 1-2 sip whenever your body needs it) For a routine of 60 minutes, it’s advised to have 500ml of water.
- Post-Workout Hydration – To help you determine the amount of fluid you lose during exercise, you can weigh yourself before and after exercise. For each 500 grams lost during activity, drink at least 500 ml of fluid. If your body weight increased, you have overhydrated and you should drink less fluid in future exercise sessions. Overhydration can also cause health complications.
Tip: Caffeine is dehydrating and reduces water content from body. Do not count your cups of coffee towards your water intake.
Even though the prescribed amount of water is 6-8 glasses a day, it all depends on individuals (lifestyle, geography, activity level, etc.) While some healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For others, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. And some others may need more than 8 glasses each day.
I hope this helps you realize the importance of staying hydrated during your workout and will make you more mindful about your fluid intake. If you have any other questions, drop a comment below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
Stay Hydrated. Stay Healthy.