So hopefully you are reading this as a regular, dedicated exerciser. If you have succeeded in making exercise a habit in your life, congratulations to you. Now it’s time to focus on some aspects of your exercise routine that can really make a big difference in your results and how you feel. Hydration is one of the most important and often overlooked keys to a successful exercise routine. Read on for why, and some tips to help you stay better hydrated while working out.
Staying hydrated is so important for a healthy lifestyle. Tammy wrote a fantastic post discussing the everyday benefits of staying well hydrated. Read it here. She is right about hydration keeping you focused and energetic. Hydration is even more important during exercise, so don’t forget to pack your water bottle in your gym bag.
Why you need to stay hydrated during exercise
- Gain energy – It is true that having enough water in your system will help you feel more energetic, which can help you push longer and harder during your exercise routine. When you are dehydrated, you will feel fatigue and tire out way sooner. If you are trying to reach an exercise or weight loss goal, then you know you need to work out as long and as hard as you can.
- Avoid injury – When you are hydrated, your body just runs better and your mind is better able to focus on correct form. If you are feeling lethargic because of dehydration, there is more of a chance that you will fall, pull a muscle, or injure yourself in another way.
- Cool down – I don’t know about you, but I sweat like a man when I exercise. It’s not pretty, but it’s me. Drinking lots of water helps cool me down and regulate my body temperature. If I get too hot, my body wants to quit. Drinking water before, during and after my workout helps me get through even the most intense routine.
So how much water do you have to drink?
There’s no right answer because everyone is different. It is best to start hydrating before your workout. You never want to get to the point where you feel super thirsty, and drinking up before you even start exercising is a good way to avoid that. Fill up a 24 oz. bottle for your workout, and try to finish it all before you are done. If you have a hard time with this, you may need to time yourself at first to take a drink every five minutes or so, until you get used to it. Then, when you are done working out, continue to drink water for at least a half hour after, to help replenish the fluids you sweated out during exercise.
How to choose a water bottle
You really don’t need to get all fancy with your water bottle, or spend big bucks on one with unnecessary bells and whistles. You definitely want to think about the functionality of your water bottle. I like a lightweight bottle that I can pick up and quickly squeeze to get a drink, even if I’m in motion. I am not a fan of bottles with straws or caps that have to be unscrewed for workouts. They just don’t seem to be as practical, but everyone is different, so go with what you like. This simple Camelbak water bottle is my go-to for the gym because it is good quality, easy to use, and it’s really affordable. Here’s another one if you need something while you run outside.
A word about sports drinks
Sports drinks and vitamin infused waters are so popular right now, but you don’t need them. Unless you plan to work out super hard for over an hour, or you are running a marathon, all you need is water. Sports drinks are not going to give you a better smaller-scale workout. If you do turn to these types of drinks, be very careful to avoid options with added sugar and other foreign ingredients. If the taste of plain water makes you want to gag (I know some people who feel this way), then try adding natural flavor to your water, like lemon, orange, or cucumber slices.
Do you have a favorite water bottle? What are your tips for staying hydrated?