Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
NOT drinking enough water before a morning run, exercising and sweating a ton especially outdoors, forgetting a water bottle to sip during a cycle, and steamy temps are definite ways to put us on a path to dehydration. Staying hydrated while exercising is important because of the added sweat loss (compared to day-to-day activities like working at a desk/ kitchen table or watching TV). Tossing back some H2O while working out can also help us fight fatigue and prolong endurance. Before you turn into a raisin inside and out, check out these ways to prevent mid-workout dehydration, especially now that most of our workouts are more than likely out the back in the sunshine and not in a temperature controlled environment like the gym or class studio.
Good old H2O is critical for rehydrating when the body experiences fluid loss, such as when we sweat. Even though many shops like to keep pricey sports drinks and protein shakes stocked on their shelves, most of the time, water will do the trick just fine. Aim to sip seven to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise to stay properly hydrated. If you’re working out for longer than an hour or doing a particularly intense exercise (like running a good distance or participating in a tough training session), you will probably need to replace electrolytes too, this is where a sports drink or electrolyte-enhanced water comes in handy. However it’s also important to be wary of overhydration: Too much water can lead to hyponatremia, which is when excess water in our bodies dilutes the sodium content of our blood.
Sip on Sports Drinks and Coconut Water
When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, which are minerals found in the blood that help to regulate (among other things) the amount of water in the body. Research suggests and sports drinks, such as Powerade and Gatorade, can help prolong exercise and rehydrate our bodies because they contain electrolytes, which plain old water does not. While an ordinary workout may not require electrolyte-replenishing, those participating in longer and more intense periods of exertion, such as running a marathon or going through a particularly intense workout, will benefit from a good dose of electrolytes mid-workout. Not in to sports drinks, or want a more natural alternative? Water-enhancing electrolyte tablets, coconut water, or a homemade sports drink could be potentially effective substitutes.
Many fruits are a great source of both electrolytes and fluids, though the dose of electrolytes can differ from fruit to fruit. Bananas and dates are known for having high levels of the electrolyte potassium, making them a great option for re-fuelling during an intense workout (for example, a long run). To stay hydrated while keeping up electrolytes, it’s important to drink water while munching on fruit (fruit contains some water, but not as much as your water bottle).
Hop on the scale before and after exercise. For each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 ounces of fluid. If your body weight change is three percent or more, you may be experiencing dehydration. Losing a few pounds of body weight after exercise can put strain on the body and result in uncomfortable side effects like muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue. To prevent sweating away the water that keeps us hydrated, have a water bottle at the ready.
Great tip for dehydration; check the colour of your urine to make sure you’re staying hydrated. When properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow in colour, dark yellow urine may indicate dehydration.
Tame your Thirst
Whatever you’re drinking, be it water, juice, or sports drinks, make sure to take a sip or two whenever you feel thirsty. Even if you’re not feeling totally parched, mild thirst is still a sign of impending dehydration.
Pay attention to your Muscles
Lean muscle tissue contains more than 75 percent water, so when the body is short on H2O, muscles are more easily fatigued. Staying hydrated helps prevent the decline in performance (strength, power, aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity) during exercise. When your muscles feel too tired to finish a workout, try drinking some water and resting for a bit before getting back at it.
Pinch your skin
Go ahead, pinch yourself! Skin turgor, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal (or more simply put, it’s elasticity), is an easy way to check your hydration (though not 100 percent reliable for everyone). Using your index finger and thumb, simply pinch the skin on the back of your hand (not too hard!) and hold for a few seconds. When you let go, if the skin takes a while to return to its normal position, you may be dehydrated.
Here are some handy tips for you, to use daily, to insure you keep hydrated:
Have a glass of water the minute you wake up, and have a bottle or glass of water beside you as you work to sip on, not only for when your exercising
Check the colour of your urine
Be strategic about alcohol and caffeine
With the change in our routine its important to keep an eye on all aspects of our life and make sure we are not letting anything slip or fall out of routine, like your hydration, nutrition, exercise, sleep etc.