How much water do you really need when you hit the gym?
Staying hydrated while exercising is very important, especially during the hotter months when we tend to lose more water by sweating. The best way to hydrate our bodies is to drink water, as it helps to prevent dehydration.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of water in the body: it helps our cells to function properly, it assists in chemical and metabolic reactions and helps remove waste products; it regulates our temperature, aids our focus and digestion and improves our mood amongst other valuable functions. With water being so important on a day-to-day basis, it’s no surprise that it is also a key factor in fitness.
While drinking water greatly benefits our bodies, consuming too much can have adverse effects, one of which is hyponatremia. This condition occurs when the blood becomes excessively diluted from drinking too much water, dangerously reducing sodium levels in our bodies. Hyponatremia can result in symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, and in severe but rare cases, death. It is important to follow proper hydration guidelines to avoid these symptoms.
According to experts, four to six cups of fluid daily is generally recommended for most people to consume. As a rule of thumb, drink a 250ml glass of water 30 minutes before you hit the gym to ensure your muscles are firing on all cylinders. Then follow that up with 500ml within 30 minutes of finishing. Deciding how much to sip mid-session is more subjective.
After 90 minutes moderate exercise, water is no longer enough. At this point, your glycogen stores are mere fumes and it’s time to start sipping electrolyte-rich sports drinks.
Stay hydrated and keep track of your liquid consumption. More is not always best.