Approximately 55-65% of the human body is made up of water, so it’s no big surprise that staying hydrated is vital at all times if we want to feel our best. However, it’s important to pay particularly close attention to hydration levels during exercise and sessions in the sauna or steam room. Why? Because these activities increase our temperatures so the body reacts by sweating to cool us down, which of course uses the vital fluids from our body.
So exactly how much do you need to drink to stay hydrated? The exact amount required will vary with each individual, and is dependant on factors including gender, age, height, weight and the intensity of the workout itself. As a general guide, when working out you should aim to at least consume 340 ml prior to a workout and 225 ml every 15-20 minutes during a workout. When you have completed your exercise you should drink 680 ml for every pound you’ve lost at the end of the session. Of course these are average guidelines, so if you find that you need more, drink more and vice versa.
If you’ve watched an advert for a sports drink you will no doubt have heard about the body’s need to replace lost electrolytes during exercise. Is there truth in this or is it just a marketing ploy to dupe you into something you don’t need? Electrolytes are lost through exercise, and they do need to be replaced, however, it doesn’t mean you have to consume a huge bottle of bright blue liquid every time. You can replenish electrolytes with carbohydrates and sodium, so if you want a sports drink go for one with 120-170 mg of sodium per 225 ml serving and of course with as little added sugar as possible. Sugar can give you a temporary rush, but the effects on the body’s sugar levels is more damaging and counter productive.
Dehydration is no good for the body. Prolonged periods will have a serious impact on health and well-being, but even short bursts can affect you mentally and physically. It can cause light-headedness, fatigue and increase the risk of muscle cramps. Always take a bottle of water with you and make use of water fountain facilities to get the most out of your gym and sauna sessions.