Exercise and Water Ingestion

Water Ingestion is Essential Before, During, and After Exercise

Whether you’re an athlete or an exercise enthusiast, water ingestion is essential before, during, and after exercise. If you are dehydrated before exercise, then it will only worsen during and after exercise if you do not ingest enough water and it will affect your performance.

In the article Water Tips for Efficient Exercise on WebMD, most people who exercise and athletes underestimate how much fluid is lost through breathing and sweating during intense exercise. The more an exercise participant is hydrated, the longer and better a workout will be, enabling the exercise session to be easier to finish. Dehydration can also lead to muscle cramps during a workout.

How much water is necessary to drink? According to Renee Melton, MS, RD, LD, director of nutrition for Sensei, quoted in the article Water Tips for Efficient Exercise, the formula for sufficient water intake during exercise should be to drink 15 – 20 ounces of water an hour or two before working out; 8 -10 ounces of water shortly before you begin exercising; and during the workout, it is recommended that 8 ounces of water are taken in every 15 minutes.

In the Canada Food Guide article, Make water your drink of choice, it suggests that there are many benefits of making water your primary source of fluid replenishment. Where other drink choices have more calories, sodium, sugars, and saturated fat, water is more beneficial because it is important for your health, it satisfies thirst, and it has no calories while you rehydrate.

Sweating, breathing, and expelling waste are ways in which our bodies lose water but often, we don’t know how much water is lost. Water loss also occurs through urination, vomiting, and bleeding. Depending on the health condition you’re in, whether you are pregnant, the type of activity you’re performing, and environmental conditions, this will determine the amount of fluid you need or will lose. If you are ill and have consistent vomiting or diarrhea, it can become a dangerous dehydration situation.


The Water Intake Calculator

The Water Intake Calculator allows you to put in your age, gender, height, weight, activity level, and environmental conditions to determine how much water you should drink. The Water Intake Calculator App on Google Play is available for downloading to your mobile device so that you can always know how much water to ingest during indoor and outdoor activities. But the Disclaimer on the website states that the calculator is intended for educational or informational purposes only. Since it is based on estimations, it’s best to consult a professional.

In the Rules of Hydration and Exercise section on the Water Intake Calculator page, the intake of water before, during, and after a workout, and whether you should drink sports drinks or not vary. They recommend that before a workout, you should hydrate throughout the day. The recommended amount of water to ingest before working out is ½ to 1 cup of water 15 – 20 minutes before exercise. During a workout, drinking ½ cup water for every 20 minutes that you exercise is suggested. After a workout, drink 2 cups of water for every pound that is lost since water consumption is based on body weight. If sweat is excessive or if the workout is more than 45 minutes, then having a sports drink or adding an electrolyte product during and after exercise is another option.


Water Suggestions for Adults, Children, and Pregnant Women

Although the recommended amount of water to drink in general is 8 classes per day, the professional opinions on this determination vary. As stated in this article, the amount of water taken in really depends on various factors like age, gender, health conditions, the types of activity performed, environmental factors, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggested that both men and women who are 19 of age and up should take in 131 ounces for men and 95 ounces for women. This is your inclusive fluid ingestion per day which includes water, and anything you eat that contains a high fluid content like fruits and vegetables. For example, fruits that are high in fluid content are apricots, oranges, pineapples, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and plums, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

For children, the suggested water intake for girls and boys who are 4 to 8 years old is approximately 5 cups of water a day or 40 ounces. For older children who are 9 to 13 years old, the amount that is taken increases from 7 to 8 cups. Teenagers aged 14 to 18 years old should take 8 to 10 cups of water per day.

Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should drink ten 8 ounce glasses of water per day.

For the best results at keeping your hydration levels up before, during, and after exercise, make a schedule of when to drink water. Preferably, use the Water Intake Calculator if you’re unsure as to how much water to drink before, during, and after exercise. If plain water becomes boring, you can always add fresh lemons or limes, blueberries, raspberries, herbs like mint, a cucumber, or a cinnamon stick. For the most flavor, chop the herbs, slice fruit into cubes, and squash the berries. Adding fruits and herbs to carbonated water is an option as well.


Stay Hydrated

Remember to rehydrate especially if you are exercising outside on a very hot day. There are consequences to dehydration such as extreme thirst, infrequent urination, dark yellow urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. It is recommended by the Mayo Clinic in this article about Dehydration when to see a doctor.

You’re seriously dehydrated if you have diarrhea or if you’re experiencing disorientation, if you can’t retain fluids, or if you have bloody or black stools. Dehydration can also lead to other serious conditions like heat injury, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, vomiting, and low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). Although anyone can become dehydrated, the people at a higher risk are infants and children; older adults; people with chronic illnesses; and people who work or exercise outside.

Whatever exercise people choose to participate in, water plays an important role in staying hydrated and healthy. Set the goal of drinking enough water and never get thirsty because that’s a sign you’re already dehydrated. Be aware of dehydration indicators and rehydrate before it becomes an issue, as rehydration is the best way to experience the optimum effect of exercise.


Take the Water Hydration Quiz

To test your knowledge and awareness of how much you know about water intake and hydration, take the quiz on WebMD, Water Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydration?


Take the Water Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydration?

Calculator Online
Water Intake Calculator  

Mayo Clinic

Canada’s Food Guide
Make water your drink of choice

Offline Clinic
Sources of water loss from body


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