Hydration during Exercise and Daily Activity
Water is a vital part of how our body functions on a daily basis
The amount of hydration needed varies according to the exercise effort, the external temperature and the current state of your health.
Water assists in body hydration and regulating our body temperature. It supports the chemical interactions within our muscle, enabling performance and maintains blood functionality and volume. It’s essential to maintain hydration and replenish fluid loss from sweating due to physical exertion.
Dehydration is common when participating in prolonged and intense exercise in the heat. If the water loss is not replenished correctly it can lead to the following side effects:
- Clammy skin
- Elevated heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
Dehydration can further lead to more serious side effects:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stroke
- Muscle cramping/fatigue
- Breakdown of skeletal muscle
As hydrating is related to how well your body is able to perform, if hydration levels are not maintained, performance can decrease significantly. The more you sweat or exert yourself during exercise, the greater the loss of body fluid
It is also possible to over-hydrate; consuming too much liquid at one time. Although very rare, over-hydration can lead to hyponatremia which can result in death in severe cases.
Hydration during exercise can reduce your body temperature and performance especially if the water you are drinking is chilled. There is a need to balance your intake with your body thermoregulation. This is quite an individual process. Some long distance athletes prefer to not hydrate during a race. Mostly, there is a a balance between thermoregulation and hydration that will vary from person to person and from day to day. Inhibiting the sweat process can also affect your thermoregulation and therefore hydration requirements.
Tips for staying well hydrated during exercise
- Always start exercise well hydrated; this will lower the risk of becoming dehydrated
- Develop a plan for drinking before and during exercise based on your own sweat rates and performance during the event.
- During recovery, you will continue to lose fluids through sweating and urine losses, so plan to replace 125% -150% of this fluid deficit over the next 2-6 hours.
- Drink fluids with your recovery snacks and the post-exercise meal to achieve this goal
- Be prepared! Make sure that you take a large water bottle with you, or have access to water, whenever you exercise.
Water, Sports Drinks, Fruit and Vegetables
Water is the best fluid replacement for low-intensity and short duration exercise. Unless you are exercising in an endurance event, Sports drinks should only be a second resource as they contain more kilojoules and simple sugars than water.
Natural fruits and vegetables are another alternative that should be consumed after exercise as they can contain high levels of water and complex carbohydrates including required vitamins and minerals
Some examples are: