Rethink What You Drink™: Hydration Guidelines for Exercise

Proper hydration is key for maintaining optimal performance and safe physical activity.   Tweet This! Staying appropriately hydrated has been shown to increase exercise performance (aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, strength and power).

An appropriate hydration strategy involves beginning exercise hydrated, minimizing fluid loss during activity and then replacing fluid loss following exercise.   Tweet This! Hydration requirements vary by individual and therefore an individual must be aware of their needs when it comes to these factors.

How do I monitor hydration?

  • Urine color. Monitoring one’s urine color is a simple and effective way to know one’s hydration status. Clear or lemonade colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration. Dark colored urine like the color of apple juice, indicates dehydration. Also, dark urine is often produced after taking vitamin supplements.
  • Sweat Loss.  Monitoring changes in body weight following a workout can be used to estimate sweat loss. Since sweat loss following exercise is an indicator of hydration, individuals are advised to follow a customized fluid replacement plan that considers thirst, urine color, fluid intake, sweat loss and body weight changes that occur during exercise.

How can I minimize dehydration?

Dehydration can occur in any environment and climate. It doesn’t have to be hot and there doesn’t have to be visible perspiration. You can become dehydrated while skiing or swimming in a pool for example.

Dehydration occurs when an individual fails to adequately replace fluid lost through sweating. Dehydration that exceeds two percent of one’s body weight will negatively affect exercise performance.   Tweet This!  The best strategy for avoiding this is to be well hydrated before beginning exercise and replace fluids lost during and after exercise.

Be alert for conditions that increase fluid loss through sweat, such as air temperature, exercise intensity, body size, gender, duration of exercise and fitness level.

Warning signs of dehydration.

Early signs of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Flushed skin
  • Premature fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster breathing and pulse rate
  • Increased perception of effort
  • Decreased exercise capacity

Later signs of dehydration include:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased weakness
  • Labored breathing with exercise

How Much Do I Need to Drink After Exercise?

Rehydration should occur within two hours post exercise to assure optimal rehydration.   Tweet This! Review calculations in the table below to gain a better understanding of how to adequately replace fluids, post-exercise.

 

Fluid Replacement After Exercise Volume in Liters
BM Loss Fluid Needed
0.5 kg (1.1 lbs) 0.5 L
1 kg (2.2 lbs) 1 L
1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) 1.5 L
2 kg (4.4 lbs) 2 L
2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) 2.5 L
3 kg (6.6lbs) 3 L

References

“Hydration.” (Korey Stringer Institute, UCONN) retrieved from ksi.uconn.edu/prevention/hydration/


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