By Wendy Moltrup, MS, CHES
Hydration affects how your body functions, including your heart rate, core body temperature, circulation and the ability of your muscles to contract properly.
Why is hydration important during exercise?
Maybe you’ve found yourself asking this very question: Why is hydration important during exercise? According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), failing to take in enough water can lead to dehydration, heat illnesses, muscle fatigue, energy loss, and decreased performance. Dehydration and health illnesses can lead to serious health problems and be life-threatening.
What should I drink?
Water, just plain H2O, is often the best choice for hydration. When exercising for less than an hour, water is usually fine.If the environment or temperature is hot or when you are exercising for more than an hour, a sports drink that includes carbohydrates (glucose) and sodium (salt) may be a better choice. Sodium is a vital electrolyte that is lost in sweat.
How much should I drink?
How much you need to drink varies according many factors, including gender, age, health, medications, diet, sweat rate and the environment. Being mindful of these factors will go along with learning why hydration is so important during exercise.A simple way to monitor your hydration is by the color of your urine. When you are hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow or clear. Dark urine is often a sign that you need to drink more.*Note, some vitamins or medications may also cause your urine to be darker.
When should I drink?
- Drink before you get thirsty. Drink during the day, before you go to class and even if you are not exercising.
- Drink during class. Always have water or a sports drink with you during your ride.
- Drink after class. Replenish the water lost through sweat when you exercise.