Drink up: Stay hydrated during exercise

March 1, 2017

What's the must-have piece of gear for every exerciser? A water bottle.iStock-514740916.jpg

Your body needs plenty of fluid to get the most out of a workout. Water helps to cool you down—from the inside out. It also transports nutrients, eliminates waste, and maintains blood pressure and circulation.

If you don't take in enough liquid, you may notice that your muscles get tired or feel cramped. Or you might lose energy and become a bit uncoordinated. Worse yet, you could end up with a dangerous case of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How much is enough?

Each body has slightly different needs. But in general, you want to drink these amounts:

  • Two hours before exercise: 17 to 20 ounces of fluid. Eight ounces is equal to one cup.
  • During exercise: 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes.
  • After exercise: 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. You might weigh yourself before and after exercise. Your weight should be about the same or a little less. If your weight drops more than 1 percent, you're starting to become dehydrated and need to drink enough water to replace the amount you've lost.

 Don't wait to drink until you're thirsty. Thirst is not a good way to monitor fluid status.

You can also check your urine to see if you're well hydrated. It should be plentiful and a pale yellow color.

What to drink

Water is generally the best choice for hydration, but some athletes who exercise hard and long also consume sports drinks. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in sports drinks may help you rehydrate faster.

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine; American Council on Exercise

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