You’re on the treadmill. You’re out on the street. You’re lifting weights. You have goals. You have a time limit. You’re sweaty, tired, and thirsty – but you don’t stop and take a sip to drink. Why? While many believe it’s important to rehydrate after exercise, the truth is that your body benefits more when you drink water before, during, and after your workouts.
Why Hydration is Important
In short, a properly hydrated body is able to work at the highest rate possible. When you are hydrating, you reduce your risk of muscle cramps and fatigue, you are better able to control your heart rate and body temperature, and you can better avoid more serious complications. Water also, in general, helps to promote joint health and helps to carry water-soluble nutrients throughout your body. It’s good for you.
Of course, we can’t give you a sure-fire number of ounces per day you should be drinking as each person is different. One of the best ways to make sure you are hydrated, in general, is to check the color of your urine. Clear or pale yellow urine is a sign that you are well-hydrated, while darker colors are an indicator that you are not hydrating enough.
The American Council on Fitness does have some general guidelines for water intake for those who plan on moderate or intense exercise programs. They recommend approximately 20 ounces at least 2-3 hours before your workout, another 8 ounces about 30 minutes before you begin, 7-10 ounces every 10 - 20 minutes throughout your routine, and another 8 ounces within the first 30 minutes after you end your workout.
That’s a considerable amount of water for an intense exercise program, but your body needs it to support the effort you are asking of it.
Tips for Drinking More Water
Water is important not only during your workout, but throughout the day. We know some of you find it quite boring, though. During the workout, you should stick to plain water, but at other points in the day consider:
Setting realistic daily challenges for yourself;
Creating a custom jug on which you draw time lines to motivate you to hit certain goals by certain times of the day;
Make a glass of water a part of your daily routines – like every time you brush your teeth or while you are preparing your dinner;
Try using a straw. People who use them typically drink more fluids, and faster, without even realizing it.