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How much water should you drink while exercising?

by Jasmine McNenny on Jan 11, 2016

Staying hydrated in the summer can be tricky. The heat can draw out more water from our bodies than we realize and at a much faster rate. At times we can feel weak and dizzy, signs of dehydration, without even feeling thirsty. This is especially important to take note of during exercise when we are not only beleaguered by heat, but quickly drained of essential fluids through sweat and general exertion.

So besides the obvious, why should we stay hydrated during exercise?

Keep moving - Water is essential for an efficient workout and a quick recovery. Water helps to loosen up your muscles so that you can work out better and longer without intense stiffness or cramps. It is also key to many chemical reactions involved in tissue regeneration, so without water post-workout, recovery will be slow.

Don’t faint - Most of us have probably felt a little woozy on a particularly hot day, but the danger is even more real if we were also doing something physically strenuous. Dehydration makes us feel dizzy, weak, exhausted, and mentally foggy; these are not good states to be in before or during an intense workout.

Stay strong - With sufficient water during a workout, your heart does not have to strain as much to pump blood and it is easier to replenish key nutrients to depleted muscles. So not only are you ensuring that your body is properly supplied with the essentials, but by lowering the work done by your heart you’ll have more energy for your workout and feel better doing it.

But given all the positive effects of staying hydrated during a workout, it can be surprisingly hard to do. The standard advice is to:

  1. drink 15-20 oz between 1 and 2 hours before your workout
  2. drink 8 oz right before your workout
  3. drink 8 oz every fifteen minutes during your workout
  4. drink another 8 oz after your workout.

Although exact water consumption needs vary by person and weight, this is a good rule of thumb. The increments of water are also small enough that you will not have to worry about the negative effects of drinking too much water.

I can be challenging to keep track, especially during a rigorous workout,whether or not we’ve had 8 oz of water in the last fifteen minutes. These problems of convenience can be solved by simply keeping a water bottle nearby and making it a priority to drink during short breaks. This will solve most of the dehydration worry, but if you want something more precise, measure out the water ahead of time or be aware of how much water your reuseable bottle holds, and then either set a timer or build a workout around breaks every 15 minutes. If you do this, your workouts will be better and you will keep your body happy.

Reaching your hydration goals is made easier with the Citrus Zinger Biggie.

Photos: Amber Patrick / aterrormusical photography