Should You Drink Water During a Workout?

Staying hydrated is an important part of your everyday, especially when you’re working in exercise and losing much of that water you’ve stored up by sweating it off. Without the right amount of hydration, your ability to perform in a workout class or jog around the neighborhood can decline quickly. In fact, that thirsty feeling you start to get in the middle of exercising can mean you’re already dehydrated. Eek! Because water comprises 75 percent of all muscle tissue and 10 percent of fatty tissue, even the smallest hint of dehydration can have a huge impact on your performance.

Drinking an adequate amount of water before and after class can directly affect how you feel during the halfway point, so make sure you’re gulping enough throughout the day. But what exactly is that magic number? While dehydration can make it difficult to get through a workout and be a danger to your health, drinking too much water can also slow yourself down. So, should you really drink throughout your workout or limit it to a big swig at the end of class?

Should you drink water during a workout?

You should drink water during your workout. If you are working out you are expending energy, your heart rate is increasing and you are going to sweat. Drinking water throughout your workout will help prevent dehydration. The American Council on exercise recommends drinking 7 to 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes in your workout.

If you’re exercising for longer than two hours or in a hot, humid environment, regular drinking water might not suffice for the hard work you’re putting your body through. Vigorous exercise like this can deplete your supply of glycogen that the muscle cells use up. If you can’t take a break to refuel–say, you’re running a marathon–you can turn to those bright colored sports drinks for a burst of much-needed carbs and sodium.

How much water should you drink during a workout?

The main goals of intaking H2O throughout your exercise routine are to prevent dehydration and to not drink more than you’re sweating out. In order to figure out if you’re drinking enough, weigh yourself without clothes before and after a typical workout. If your weight changes more than two percent of your starting weight, you should plan to drink more water throughout your workout in the future.

To avoid that from happening in the first place, the American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before a workout. Then, about 20 to 30 minutes beforehand, drink another 8 ounces. Within 30 minutes of completing the workout routine, drink another 8 ounces and continue to gulp down 16 to 24 ounces for each pound you lost during the workout to regain the water you sweated out.

Post workout hydration

So, what if you’re in a class that doesn’t take water breaks or on a run and didn’t bring a bottle of water? Are you doomed? Well, not exactly. If your normal routine lasts about an hour or less and doesn’t involve sweating it out in hot or humid weather, you can probably make it without a few sips of water. The average-sized healthy person can produce as much as 32 ounces of sweat in a 60-minute session of vigorous indoor exercise, and while that might sound intense you shouldn’t be affected if you’ve properly prepared throughout the day by, you guessed it, drinking the recommended amount of water.

You can see whether or not you should hydrate during class with a simple, yet somewhat gross, test beforehand: examining your urine. If it’s dark with a strong smell, consider drinking throughout your exercise routine, but if it’s a clear to light yellow you can leave the water bottle in your gym bag. Just don’t forget to rehydrate after class! Water encourages your body to move waste products out of the joints and muscles, reduces pain, improves flexibility and decreases recovery time.

Don’t forget to drink your water

Whether you’re participating in a one-hour HIIT class or full-blown marathon, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the workout. Be sure to prepare during the day by drinking the daily recommended amount of water and fueling your muscles after with another glass or two. If you really don’t want to sip in class, you can probably skip it only if you’ve been hydrating steadily throughout the day and aren’t feeling thirsty in class.

The bottom line: listen to your body. If it’s calling for water, take a sip or two. Bottoms up!

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