Proper Hydration Should Be Essential Part of Any Workout

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Anyone who ends a workout feeling thirsty and doesn’t have the urgency to use the restroom may not be consuming enough water, a local sports medicine doctor says.

“Hydration is essential to any workout,” says Sean Convery, a sports medicine physician with Premier Orthopedics. “Exercising without good hydration is not only bad for your body, but simply unadvisable. It affects your performance and can create health problems once you are done.”

The amount of water that should be consumed when exercising varies from person to person and which health organization is being consulted. However, a good rule of thumb is 32 ounces of water for every hour of exercise. Individuals need to realize that the timing of hydration is just as important as the amount of water they consume.

“People need to understand that their body needs to be properly hydrated before they even start exercising,” says Dr. Convery, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “This is something that is hard for individuals who exercise first thing in the morning. They get out of bed, throw on their workout clothes and hit the treadmill, but their body hasn’t had water for six, maybe eight hours, overnight.”

How Water Helps

Those who exercise in the morning – or any other part of the day – can make sure they are properly hydrated prior to their workout by drinking at least eight ounces of water on their way to the gym. 

“If you start the workout at a healthy hydration level then you will be more energized, more alert and your body will be able to replace the fluids you are losing much better,” he says.

Water is essential to exercise because of its effect on the body. Water helps the body process toxins and helps it to better eliminate waste through the kidneys. It also helps the body’s muscles to better function, optimizing a person’s workout.

Plain water is best when hydrating, but may need to be supplemented when workouts extend beyond an hour. The body needs to replenish electrolytes that are lost during long exercise routines and endurance sports. Sports drinks can provide the extra boost needed, but Dr. Convery often suggests diluting them with half water to cut down on the amount of sugar in them.

Symptoms of Low Hydration

Those who are not consuming enough water will develop a variety of symptoms. Weakness, fatigue, muscle aches, cramps and mental dullness are classic signs that the body is lacking the amount of water it needs.

“One thing that athletes do to track how much water they are getting is to watch the color of their urine,” Dr. Convery says. “If it is clear and colorless to pale yellow, you are well hydrated. If it is darker than that, then you aren’t hydrated. If it is completely dark or smells bad you are very dehydrated.”

Everyone should have a hydration plan for their workouts that is based on their individual health and the type of exercise they are doing. A person’s gender, age, weight and health history are things to consider. Maintenance medication – such as those that act as a diuretic – should also be taken into account. The temperature of the environment and the length of time exercising are also important. 

“Everyone needs a plan because it’s not one-size-fits-all,” Dr. Convery says. “It has to be individualized. Talk to your doctor, an athletic trainer or qualified personal trainer to help you with a plan.”

For more information on hydration and exercise or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit our Orthopedics page.

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