Sufficient consumption of fluids while exercising has always been critically important.
The Dangers of Dehydration
Contrary to a popular belief, dehydration and thirst are by no means the same thing. Feeling thirsty is one thing, but when the body becomes even modestly dehydrated, the toll taken on both physical and psychological health can be devastating.
While over-hydration can also be problematic, it is comparatively rare for runners to consume too much fluid while exercising.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with dehydration include weight loss, lethargy, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and dry mouth or lips. Unfortunately, it typically isn’t until dehydration becomes relatively severe that such symptoms become noticeable. By which time, dehydration may already be having a detrimental effect on the body from head to toe.
Establishing Fluid Requirements
If you are dehydrated by as little as 1%, your physical capabilities diminish by as much as 2%.
As a general rule of thumb, it is said that an average adult should consume at least two liters of water (or equivalent fluids) every day. Others suggest taking your weight in pounds and multiplying it by 0.55 – the resulting figure being the number of fluid ounces you should consume daily.
Nevertheless, requirements vary significantly in accordance with activity levels, ambient temperatures and general lifestyle habits. As such, it’s up to you to listen to your body and respond to its requirements. The key to a successful hydration is to drink slowly and constantly throughout the day – never allowing yourself to feel excessively thirsty.
The Best Fluids for Hydration
If you’d rather not stick exclusively to water, there are plenty of other options for remaining adequately hydrated. Low fat milk, decaf coffee, green tea, sugar-free soft drinks, energy drinks, juices and even soups can contribute to your daily hydration requirements. Nevertheless, experts in general recommend sticking to water and isotonic sports drinks, when doing physical activity.
As alcohol has a powerful dehydrating effect on the body, its consumption is to be avoided at all costs before and during your exercise.