Planning to Test Your Limits With Your Next Workout? Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Dehydrated

By on June 8, 2020

There’s little doubt that incorporating regular physical exercise is healthy and important, but it’s also just as important to not get dehydrated. Adequate hydration needs to occur before, during, and after a workout. This is especially the case when a person lives in a hot or humid climate and is exercising outdoors. Dehydration can cause mild to serious side effects, including a loss of energy, muscle cramps, the inability to keep standing, dizziness, and even the need for hospitalization. Adequate hydration can come from several sources, including plain water and sports drinks that help replenish nutrients lost during exercise.

How Do I Know if I’m Staying Hydrated?

Exercise causes the body to lose electrolytes and water mainly through sweat. By exercising in climates where heat and humidity are factors, a person can become dehydrated more quickly due to an increased amount of sweat as the body attempts to cool itself. Hydration levels are often checked by looking at the color of a person’s urine. Typically, the lighter the color, the more hydrated someone is. However, there are other symptoms that can reveal problems with hydration during exercise. For instance, a loss of stamina, a loss of muscle strength, dizziness and nausea, dry mouth and lips, and excessive thirst may indicate someone is or is becoming dehydrated. Drinking water or sports drinks like those found at can help prevent dehydration.

Dehydration Prevention Methods

Besides drinking enough water or sports drinks during exercise, it is important to drink enough water prior to working out and after each workout session. Although the standard recommendation is to drink at least sixty-four ounces of water per day, this standard does not account for strenuous exercise or extreme temperatures and humidity. Athletes and those who engage in moderate to strenuous physical activities need to drink more than sixty-four ounces. Also, when temperatures are hot and humidity is high, additional hydration is necessary.

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Recommendations from the American Council on Exercise include drinking seventeen to twenty ounces of water two to three hours prior to engaging in exercise. An additional eight ounces of water or sports drinks should be consumed twenty to thirty minutes before physical activity. In addition, seven to ten ounces should be consumed every ten to twenty minutes during a workout, and eight ounces should be consumed no later than thirty minutes following a workout. Ensuring there is access to water or a sports drink during a workout can go a long way towards preventing dehydration. For example, taking a container of water while exercising outdoors or going for a hike can ensure someone is able to replenish lost fluids.

Which is Better? Water or Sports Drinks?

In the majority of cases, drinking enough water is enough to stay hydrated. However, some people do not like the taste of water or are concerned with tap water sources. In these cases, it may help to consume flavored water or sparkling water that does not contain any additional calories or sugars. Sports drinks are recommended for athletes and those that participate in extended strenuous exercise or exercise under more extreme conditions. This is because the longer the body is stressed through physical activity or stressed due to a combination of physical activity under extreme environmental conditions, the more likely a person is to suffer nutrient losses.

A sports drink can contain minerals and supplements, including salt and potassium, that help the body perform at optimal levels. Sports drinks that contain calories can assist with energy levels throughout a strenuous workout, although some people prefer calorie- or sugar-free sports drinks. It’s also important to check the ingredients in sports drinks for items such as caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine can diminish the positive effects of drinking water or sports drinks since it acts as a diuretic, which contributes to dehydration. This is why most advise that athletes refrain from drinking energy drinks that contain caffeine.

Not all sports drinks are created equal. Some are nothing more than sugar and water with some electrolytes thrown in for good measure. Checking the nutrition labels and ingredients will help a person discern which drinks are more beneficial than others. Besides looking for lower calories and sugar levels, check the serving sizes and sodium levels. Increased sodium intake can lead to water retention and adverse effects on blood pressure and heart health.

Harmful Effects of Dehydration

Dehydration can result in serious side effects, including the development of heatstroke or heart illness. This is a life-threatening condition that can lead to permanent disability or death. Heatstroke or heat illness can happen when a person is exercising indoors if indoor temperatures are too high, or there is a lack of cooling ventilation. For instance, someone with a home gym may choose to exercise indoors when outdoor temperatures exceed eighty-five or ninety. However, if that person’s home lacks adequate air conditioning or another cooling method, indoor temperatures can either match or exceed outdoor temperatures. Sustained strenuous exercise in high temperatures can result in faster dehydration and the development of symptoms such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion. This is why it is critical to ensure indoor temperatures at home or in a gym facility are cool enough.

Heatstroke is the most dangerous or severe side effect of dehydration. Symptoms include a temperature of over 104 degrees, flushed skin, confusion, a fast heartbeat, and fast breathing. Seizures or convulsions can also occur when a person has heatstroke. Due to the severity of the condition, immediate medical attention is necessary to correct the symptoms and prevent death. However, even extreme cases of dehydration and heat exhaustion that do not progress to heat stroke often require medical intervention. Remedies often include administering and replenishing fluids through an IV or other methods.

Although many athletes and physical fitness enthusiasts work on improving their stamina and endurance through workouts, attempting to push your limits without adequate hydration can result in serious consequences. Those who are just starting a physical fitness routine or are going outdoors to hike for the day are also at risk. Good hydration practices and dehydration prevention methods are necessary to maintain health and safety during exercise.

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Planning to Test Your Limits With Your Next Workout? Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Dehydrated