Most people lose as much as 1 liter to 2 liters of fluid during one hour of exercise. When you are not drinking enough fluids, your muscles get tired quickly, and you may have leg cramps while walking or running.
If you’re an athlete, you can lose as much as 3 liters of fluid an hour during an intense workout. Fluid loss in endurance activities such as distance running, cycling, water polo or cross-country skiing can be severe. These types of activities can quickly lead to heat exhaustion and affect your performance.
Whether you’re in the water or out on the field, it’s imperative to understand the signs of dehydration, the many benefits of hydration and how to properly hydrate to stay on top of your game.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when there is a decrease in total body water content due to fluid loss, diminished fluid intake, or both.
Sweating while exercising is your body’s way of maintaining body temperature. If water loss through sweat starts occurring at a higher rate than fluid intake, then dehydration will start to take over and affect both sweating and heat dissipation from working muscles.
Symptoms of dehydration are sometimes so mild that athletes are dealing with its consequences without even knowing it. Common signs include dry mouth and tongue, thirst, headache, lethargy, dry skin, muscle weakness, dark urine and/or dizziness.
So make sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Catching and treating dehydration early is key to staying in the game.
Importance of Hydration for Athletic Performance
Did you know that not staying properly hydrated can reduce exercise endurance? There are a variety of effects that come into play when your body is dehydrated that directly impacts athletic performance.
Some effects of dehydration include a reduction in blood volume, decreased circulation, decreased sweat rate, increased core temperature and increased risk of injuries. All of these factors negatively impact your ability to perform at your highest level.
Dehydration not only impacts your performance physically but it can also negatively impact your mental game. Dehydration can lead to slower reaction times, increased fatigue and poor concentration.
How to Hydrate
Luckily, there are ways to ensure proper hydration before your activity, during your activity and after your activity. Follow these tips to develop your hydration strategy based on your individual needs to stay ahead of your competition.
The goal is to be hydrated well before you even begin your physical activity. Don’t wait to hydrate until your body is telling you that you are thirsty.
- Drink about 4-16 oz of water 1-2 hours before exercise.
- Drink 8-12 oz of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.
To keep up with your hydration throughout your activity, make sure to be drinking enough fluid to combat the water lost through sweat.
- Drink about 5-10 oz of water every 10-15 minutes.
- If exercising longer than 60 minutes, drink 5-10 oz of sports drink every 15-30 minutes.
The goal of hydration post-activity is to replace any fluid deficit you lost during your activity. Replacing these fluids after your workout or game will restore hydration, improve recovery, reduce hypo-hydration symptoms and decrease post-exercise fatigue.
- Weigh yourself before and after the event and replace fluid losses.
- Drink 20-24 oz of water for 1 pound lost within 2 hours after the event.
Hydration is something that can often be dismissed but staying hydrated adds tremendous value and importance to the everyday functions of our bodies. To stay on top of your hydration game, invest in a reusable stainless steel water bottle that’s durable and eco-friendly. It ensures that you’ll always have water by your side without harming the planet so you can train harder, practice longer and perform better.