Do you want to make the most of your workouts?  Drinking plenty of water is a necessity for both performance and safety during exercise.  On a basic level, even slight dehydration can cause decreased physical and mental capability, which can reduce the benefits of your workout.  Yes, drinking too little water can make you feel thirsty, but it can also cause dizziness, light-headedness, lack of energy, and muscle cramping.  Severe dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, seizures, and even death.

Exercise creates an increase in body temperature, which is cooled by sweating.  If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it is not able to properly cool itself.  Exercising outside in extreme heat?  Even more dangerous without enough fluid intake!  Fluids help with muscle contraction and blood flow – two things necessary for your body to receive the full benefits of physical activity.  Even physical activity such as swimming requires proper hydration, even if you do not feel hot or thirsty.

Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day – AT LEAST!  If you are working out, chances are your body will need a bit more fluid.  The best way to ensure proper hydration is to drink plenty of fluids not only during the workout, but also before and after any physical exercise.  Drinking a few glasses of water several hours before exercise allows your body to absorb the fluid and prepare itself for the upcoming stress.  Drinking water during exercise helps maintain a safe body temperature, and drinking water after helps your muscles recover.  If you will be working out for more than an hour, you may want to drink fluids that replace electrolytes (i.e. sports drinks).

What is the easiest way to check for dehydration?  Check the color of your urine!  A darker color can mean that you aren’t getting enough water, whereas a light yellow to clear urine usually means that you are properly hydrated.  Another way to tell of you are depleting your fluid levels during exercise is to weigh before and after your workout.  If your weight is less after, then you need to increase your fluid intake.

Exercise is a critical component of excellent overall health, and water is a necessary fuel for your body during exercise.  Water also has other benefits beyond merely hydration, such as making it easier to maintain a healthy weight, helping digestion, and can even contribute to clearer skin.  So grab your water bottle and drink to your health!