There are lots of reason to hydrate adequately with fitness. On the most basic level you should drink enough water because dehydration hampers performance and can adversely impact health. You can’t nail your personal best if you’re dehydrated. Beyond ego, water is good for the body. Water aids digestion, regulates internal body temperature, cushions organs and helps lubricate joints. Read on to learn more.


Why water matters

Our bodies are made of mostly water. Adequate intake supports optimal function. Take in too little water and consequences may include dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle cramps, nausea, heat stroke or heat exhaustion.


How much to drink?

We always need water, not just when we’re working out. Although individual needs vary, these general rules apply. Drink enough water throughout the day to equal about half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you are 160 pounds you would drink about 80 ounces of water. Your urine should be pale yellow. It will be darker and more concentrated if you aren’t drinking enough.


Water and exercise

Pre-exercise: How much water you need with exercise will also vary depending on several factors including intensity, weight and weather. Use the hydration recommendation above as a minimum base line to prep the day before exercise. On the day of exercise drink between 16 and 20 ounces of water about two hours before exercise. This window gives your kidneys and bladder enough time to process and eliminate the fluid before you get started. You may want to take in a few sips about 30 minutes before exercise. Be careful not to overdo, which risks discomfort (your stomach is over full) or hyperhydration.


During exercise: take in a cup of water (about 8 ounces) for every 20 minutes of exercise. You may need more in hot weather or if you are sweating profusely.


Post-exercise: Record your weight before and after exercise. Drink at least 16 ounces for every pound lost during exercise. Monitor thirst and take in additional liquids when your body gives the signal.


Adequate hydration helps you perform better. It helps you feel better, too. Use the color of your urine as a guide to be sure you are drinking enough. Remember, your urine should be pale yellow. It should not be clear or dark (unless you are taking certain medications).  Water is the best choice for hydration because it doesn’t give you extra calories or sugar. If plain water isn’t your cup of tea dress it up with fresh herbs like mint, wedges of citrus or slices of cucumber.