The Importance of Staying Hydrated While Being Active

Being active is an important part of staying healthy and physically fit, but it’s also important that you care for yourself while being active. Stretching before and after workouts and staying hydrated are both effective ways that you can take care of yourself while strengthening the body. Whether you’re a regular athlete or a recreational exerciser, it’s important to understand the benefits to keeping hydrated.

Why Water is Important

Water makes up 45 to 75 percent of the human body. It regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and transports nutrients in the body. When you’re not hydrated, your body may experience muscle cramps, dizziness or fatigue. By the time you are feeling thirsty, the body is already dehydrated. When you attempt to work out while being dehydrated, you won’t be able to put forth your best workout.  You’ll be tired, your muscles will cramp up and you will feel light headed.

Bottom line: Keeping hydrated is necessary before, during and after working out.

What are the Signs of Dehydration? 

It’s important to know the signs of dehydration so that you can properly hydrate yourself before and after working out. When your body doesn’t have enough water, symptoms like the following can set in:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations

How Often Should I be Drinking Water?

In general, fluid replacement is needed if you have been exercising for 1.5 to three hours.

The longer and more intensely you work out, the more hydration you will need. If you lose as little as 2 percent of your body weight through sweating, your heart will need to work harder to circulate blood, which can leave you feeling dizzy and fatigued. How much sweat you lose is also related to your potassium and sodium levels.

How Much Water Do I Need?

These recommendations come from the American Council on Fitness.

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise