The Importance of Proper Hydration

Stay Hydrated This Summer

It’s the mantra drilled into the heads of personal trainers, coaches, athletes and exercisers everywhere: Drink plenty of water so you won’t get dehydrated. Whether you are training for serious competition, or simply exercising for fun, it’s important to stay hydrated.

Proper hydration before, during and after exercise is highly individualized between genders, fitness levels, climate, how much you sweat and other personal factors. Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and overall be more alert.

Good hydration means getting the right amount of water in your body before, during, and after exercise. Look at all the good things water does for you:

  • Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints.
  • Water transports nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.
  • Water prevents dehydration and heat exhaustion.
  • Unlike sports drinks, water has no sugar and no calories.
  • You may actually help soothe your own headache by sipping water because pain and inflammation are very common side effects of dehydration.

How much water should I drink while exercising?

There are no exact rules for how much water to drink while exercising, because everyone is different. You need to consider factors including your sweat rate, the heat and humidity in your environment, and how long and hard you are exercising.

When you sweat during physical activity, you lose both water and sodium that exists naturally in the body. So, it’s important to re-hydrate and re-balance normal levels of sodium and water by consuming adequate amounts of fluids to replace what you have lost both during and after exercise or strenuous activity. Even if your doing a light weight lifting routine or simply swimming in the pool, you still do need to replace the water you have lost. 

Hydration Guidelines for Healthy Adults

Dehydration causes spikes in core temperature, heart rate and perceived exertion responses. The American College of Sports Medicine offers specific guidelines for properly hydrating depending on your weight, your sport and other parameters.


Can You Ever Drink Too Much Water?

Under normal circumstances, your kidneys will eliminate water as it’s taken in. But if someone drinks liquids too quickly, the kidneys may not be able to keep up, especially under certain circumstances, such as extreme stress or excessive humidity. 

Over-hydration is rare and usually occurs during endurance events such as marathons and long-distance cycling or swimming where athletes are active for hours on end and sodium level are low.  

Exercisers and athletes can self-monitor proper hydration and the presence of normal sodium levels by examining their own urine, according to ACSM. If urine is amber or darker, you may not be getting enough fluids. If it’s straw-colored or nearly clear, that generally means you are properly hydrated.


Hydration Tips

✓ - DO drink when you feel thirsty, your body is telling you it is time to drink

X - DON’T drink massive amounts in huge gulps because your kidneys may not be able to excrete the excess
✓ - DO drink water several hours before moderate exercise and sip during your workout
X - DON’T believe that sports drinks are better than drinking water after a workout. Probably not, unless you’re exerting an immense amount of energy over a prolonged period of time.  Even then water is needed.  

We’ll see you at the California Family Fitness water fountains!