Water is essential for your health. Staying hydrated can increase your performance during a workout, increase your concentration and help energy levels. It’s no surprise that exercising uses up vast amounts of water through sweat – especially if you’re wearing Hot Wear! But how much is really lost? And what do you need to drink to rehydrate?
Everybody is different
Before we get into it, remember that everyone is different. That means we all sweat at different rates. How much you sweat has many different factors. These include room temperature, clothing (in particular, Hot Pants!), height, weight, the type of exercise and even your fitness levels. Some people think that the fitter you are, the more you sweat because your body learns how to cool itself down m ore efficiently. But there is limited evidence for this. To figure out how much water you should drink, use our recommendation as a guide with trial and error. If you leave the gym feeling dehydrated, you probably need to be drinking more to hydrate.
Before your workout
It’s important to be hydrated before a workout. This will help optimise your performance for a number of reasons. Firstly, it lubricates your joints, allowing a greater range of movement. This improves flexibility and also helps prevent injury! Being hydrated before a workout will also help reduce oxidative stress (1), which means you won’t be as sore the next day. Secondly, staying hydrated can increase your energy levels. Energy is crucial to a good gym session and something so simple as water can have a large impact! In general, it is recommended to drink 500-600 ml of water 2-3 hours before a workout. This gives your body enough time to store the water, ready for when you start sweating! To maintain that hydration, drink the same amount from about 30 minutes before and while warming up.
The best way to stay hydrated while exercising is to sip water every 5-10 minutes. Your body will be able to process water in small quantities while not hindering your performance! Sometimes drinking too much water too quickly can make you feel nauseous – not what you want! This method is useful for a spinning session, but what if you’re running on the treadmill or doing weight training? It’s not so easy to multitask. Aim to have around 250 ml even 20 minutes. Or, if you’re doing weights, have a few sips in between each set – as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to rest for too long because the lactic acid will start to kick in which makes it harder to push yourself.
Once you’ve lost water during exercise, you need to replenish the stores. Try and drink another 250ml after your workout. Be cautious that when you sweat, you also lose electrolytes which is dehydrating. Electrolytes are essential for repairs post-workout. Sports drinks contain them, but you can make your own by adding a pinch of table salt to some squash. You’ll probably find that by rehydrating effectively after a workout, you’ll recover quicker and feel more energised more quickly.