Should You Drink Water While You Exercise?

by Diane Lynn

Exercising is good for you. You can lose or manage your weight, reduce your risk of certain diseases and feel better about yourself. When you exercise, you build your endurance and muscle strength, but you also lose fluid through perspiration. Your body is over 60 percent water. Keep your body's fluid balance in correct proportion by properly hydrating yourself before, during and after exercise.

Function

All your body systems work together to use the water you drink. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water does more than relieve thirst. Your body uses water to regulate temperature, keep your joints smooth and hydrated, protect tissues like your spinal cord and rid your body of waste when you sweat. When you exercise, you lose water through perspiration. Staying properly hydrated while exercising can help protect your body's systems from damage.

Amount

The American Council on Exercise says that when you exercise for 60 minutes, you can sweat enough to lose over a quart of water. Even if you drink the appropriate amount of water throughout the day, you should drink water during exercise to prevent dehydration. The council recommends drinking two 8-ounce bottles of water several hours before you plan on exercising. Drink another glass of water about a half an hour before you exercise and between 7 and 10 ounces at least every 20 minutes while you work out. Continue to drink small amounts of water after you are done exercising.

Types

Plain water is the first choice for hydration in the midst of exercising for most people, says the American Council on Exercise. If you are a walker, working out in the gym at a moderate pace or exercising with lower intensity, choose water while you exercise. However, if you tend to sweat more than other people around you, or are working out with intensity in the heat for longer than 45 minutes, include sports drinks with sodium in your fluid intake. Add an ounce of 100 percent fruit juice to your water bottle if you do not care for plain water.

Warning

The dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion are potentially serious. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, heat exhaustion is when your body gets overheated. Drinking adequate amounts of water during exercising and sweating can keep your body and muscles hydrated and avoid this condition. Know the signs of impending heat exhaustion such as sweating more than usual, headaches during exercise, feeling dizzy or nauseous and experiencing muscle cramps. Stop exercising immediately, get into a cool place and drink more water. Call your doctor or 911 if you suspect heat exhaustion.

Considerations

When you are exercising, take an extra water bottle with you in the event you exercise longer than you originally intended. If you are a distance runner, plan for water stops along your route by locating public water fountains or placing water bottles along the way before you begin. Drink more water when exercising in the heat and humidity. Monitor the color and volume of your urine to gauge your hydration level. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says your urine should be pale yellow to clear and copious during the day.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.