Written by Julie Germaine
Note that I didn’t say, ‘Drink MORE water.” Proper hydration is important for everyone. Did you know that your body is 60% water? Maintaining normal water levels is super important when it comes to regulating body temperature, treating or preventing infections, transporting nutrients to the cells, easing joint pain through via adequate lubrication, and even helping your organs function at their best! Additionally, you will experience better quality sleep, a much better attention span, and simply more natural happiness when you give your body the water it needs all day long.
Here are some tips to help you navigate your fluid intake during exercise:
- Plan ahead by drinking plenty of water during the hours before your workout, and toting along your water bottle so you can sip throughout your activity.
- Drink water during breaks during sports. If you’re playing football or hockey, those breaks are designed for athletes to pause and drink water. We aren’t machines, after all!
- Sip to thirst during weight training sessions or during most cardiovascular activities. For endurance athletes like runners preparing for a marathon, there are many options to preplan drinking opportunities! I’ll throw some ideas at you: place your drinks along routes when you’re doing an especially long run, plan your running map so you pass convenience stores or water fountains, carry hydration packs on your back or bike, place on pool decks, or even use hand bottles.
The following list will guide your fluid intake needs during recovery:
- Improve your habits. Eating meals and snacking between training is necessary when your goal is to optimize recovery hydration efforts.
- Amazingly, some fruits and vegetables contain up to 90% of their mass as water and also contain potassium, a helpful ICF electrolyte. Also, soups have high water content and often healthy amounts of sodium.
- All fluids help your body stay hydrated! Many people falsely believe that water is the sole beverage that improves hydration. However, with the exception of beverages with alcohol percentage > 4%, all fluids increase total body water.
- More myths busted! Caffeine has been labelled a diuretic for physically active populations, but regular consumption of caffeine and exercise leads your body to become adjusted to it, and no longer will you experience a dehydrated effect from consumption.
- The high sodium content of fluids like pickle juice does reduce urine output. Maybe not the most delicious snack you’ve ever had, but this strategy might be helpful during very-intense periods of training in the heat. Of course, it is not really needed if you are eating salty food at meals during recovery.
I’ll leave you with these important little nuggets of information!
- Great practice is to consume an extra 500 mL of water before bed and within 1 to 2 hours prior to exercise.
- Avoid engaging in exercise if you are very thirsty or have extremely dark urine.
Still not sure you’re getting enough water? An excellent fitness coach can help you establish your hydration level and, if necessary, develop your individualized hydration plan.