Proper hydration is always important, but during exercise, it’s essential for maximal energy and endurance. If water lost through sweating is not replaced, fatigue can develop, and energy levels will decrease. In addition to improving athletic or exercise performance, drinking enough water also helps prevent dehydration during exercise. Drinking enough water also helps cool the body down and can prevent heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
It’s common to believe that you’re hydrated if you’re not thirsty, but that may not always be the best indicator. Once you’re experiencing thirst, your body may already be dehydrated. Once dehydration develops, symptoms may include nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue. Listening to your body and recognizing early signs of inadequate hydration and replacing lost fluids can help prevent dehydration.
Here are some guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine about staying hydrated during exercise:
- Drink about 17 ounces of fluid 2 to 3 hours before exercise.
- Drink about 8 to 10 ounces of water 10 to 20 minutes before exercise.
- Drink about 8 to 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes or so during your workout. You may find sipping water throughout your workout works as well.
- If you exercise for more than an hour, consider a sports drink.
- Continue drinking water after your workout to replace any fluids lost.