The Importance of Hydration

How much water should you drink while exercising?


By Zoey Garcia


Water is essential for all body functions. It is involved in excretory function, absorption, digestion, and regulating body temperature and moisturizing joints. It also helps in moving nutrients to each part of the body. This enables one to get energy when exercising. Hydrating before, during, and after exercising improves the quality of your workout. It decreases fatigue, enhances quick recovery, and you get comfortable during workouts.

According to studies losing just 2% of your body mass to dehydration affects your physical performance and cognitive function. The brain is sensitive to changes in the concentration of sodium and potassium ions in your body. When your brain is dehydrated, the cells shrink. This can affect your energy level and mood and soon you’ll experience headaches and lack of concentration. Therefore, hydrated brains tend to perform tasks adequately compared to ‘dry brains.'

Factors Affecting Hydration

1. Age

Dehydration is more common in old people than younger individuals. Your body loses water through sweat, moving from a place to another, breathing and urinating. As one becomes old, it becomes hard for kidneys to conserve water continuously. The urge of thirst decreases. This makes one feel tired rather than thirsty.

2. Physical Activity

Physical activities such as working out and movement cause the production of heat by our body muscles. Taking in water acts as a solution for regulating the body temperature. Water ensures that the weather is removed through sweat and evaporation. It is advisable for drinks with sodium to replace the sodium lost through sweating. One should also replace fluids after exercising.

3. Environment/Weather

Hot weather increases water loss from the body through sweating. Therefore, it is necessary to take in adequate water. Also, high altitudes increase the need to urinate and quick breathing. This leads to an increase in fluid loss.

4. Clothing

Some clothes trap sweat against the skin. This decreases the rate of temperature balance and increases sweating. One loses more water in this type of clothing. As a result, thirst for fluids increases.

Additional factors affecting hydration include; pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illness.

Benefits of Getting Hydrated When Exercising

It is important to hydrate before working out. It is also essential to sip water at regular intervals when exercising. Water increase your mental function. Thus, giving power to your brain. This helps you to focus. Hydration also improves performance. One can carry out tasks without feeling tired and weak.

Also, being hydrated helps in regulating your body temperature. This prevents you from getting fatigued. Moreover, water is essential for the general health of your body. It ensures your kidneys are working well. It also reduces body odor in sweat and urine. Checking your urine color is vital in predicting dehydration. Your urine should be clear and not darker.

How Much Water is enough?

There is no specific way on the amount of water one should take while working out. It is important to be hydrated before, during and after exercising. According to National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, men should take 15 glasses of water every day and women should consume 11 glasses. Nevertheless, one should consider making pure water aside from water contained in foods and beverages. When exercising, you should drink two to three cups per hour depending on how much you sweat.

How much water is too much?

Despite the benefits of taking water when exercising, drinking too much might be a big issue especially for aged individuals and those working out in the heat. Excessive fluids that can’t be excreted by the kidney or through sweating can cause water intoxication or severe hyponatremia. Too much water in the body dilutes the blood, causing sodium to drop at dangerous levels. Signs of severe hyponatremia include vomiting, headaches, confusions, seizures and in some cases, it causes death.

Don’t worry though, water intoxication is rare. Unless you’re consuming 1 gallon of water every three hours, you’re on the safe side. This usually happens to mentally ill patients.

How about energy drinks?

Drinking tap water is more than enough to get you hydrated during exercise. However if you’re anticipating a high-intensity sport such as basketball, marathon, cycling, etc., you’ll be needing more than just fluid replacement. Excessive water loss can cause your electrolytes and sodium to be out of balance.

Rehydrating with energy drinks like Gatorade will help you address the significant electrolyte and sodium loss. Plus it also contain carbohydrates which can give you a much needed energy boost during taxing physical activities.

Water is critical to anyone’s physical and cognitive performance, that is why it’s important to stay hydrated. During exercise, aside from burning calories you’re losing a lot of water through sweating and breathing. Depending on your level of activity you can replenish your fluids loss by drinking water or taking sips of energy drinks. When you’re well hydrated your physical performance and mental focus is at its best. This is exactly what you need to achieve your fitness goals.

Zoey is a part-time blogger and a full-time nurse. She is the founder and editor of an avenue for sharing her passion about juicing, plant-based diet and living a healthier lifestyle.

Main Photo Credit: RossHelen/; Second Photo Credit: Yuriy Golub/; Third Photo Credit: Branislav Nenin/; Fourth Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/

Apr 7, 2018

I drink BCAAs while working out