Ever find yourself suffering from cottonmouth or intense cramps in the middle of a practice or game? If so, you were probably dehydrated. (Learn the Dehydration Warning Signs.)
Keeping hydrated encourages better overall health and boosts your performance significantly. But staying properly hydrated during activity is tricky business. Many athletes don’t feel the effects of dehydration until it’s too late.
Luckily, staying properly hydrated is easier than you think—if you know how to do it. Here are seven guidelines to follow to ensure you don’t become dehydrated.
7 Guidelines To Ensure You Don’t Become Dehydrated
- Know your pre-workout and post-workout weight. Using a digital scale is one of the easiest methods of monitoring fluid intake and staying hydrated. Regular weigh-ins can also help you determine if your fluid intake during training is up to par.
- Schedule training sessions to avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day, when you sweat more and lose more fluids.
- For higher-intensity training sessions or practices, opt for a sports drink, or water infused with foods that boost electrolyte levels, like coconut water, lemon juice or fruit. Longer training sessions require more attention to keeping hydrated.
- Keep a chart of your food and fluid intake over several weeks, along with the length and intensity of training sessions, and identify any deficiencies. Then, make adjustments to promote optimal hydration outside the gym, along with ways to boost hydration during workouts.
- Take a water break every 15 to 30 minutes during activity. Outdoor training sessions during the heat of summer obviously require higher rates of fluid restoration than indoor sessions. Your food and fluid journal will help to determine if your intake matches your training regimen.
- If you must train during extreme weather conditions, modify your session and exercise with a lower intensity, while increasing your fluid intake.
- Monitor your fluid intake before, during and after a training session. If your urine runs clear, then you’re properly hydrated. If not, increase your intake.
One final tip for keeping hydrated: Calculate your sweat rate. Sweat rates are highly individual and can range from as little as .5 liters to 3.5 liters lost during activity, depending on the person, sport played and weather conditions.
How to perform the calculation
- Calculate each athlete’s sweat rate (sweating rate = pre-exercise body weight – post-exercise body weight + fluid intake – urine volume/exercise time in hours) for a representative range of environmental conditions, practices, and competitions.
The simplest way to get athletes to focus on their hydration needs is to teach them to compare pre-exercise and post-exercise body weights. If the athletes lost weight, they need to drink more at the next practice. This gives the athletes immediate feedback about their drinking habits.
“Proper hydration is extremely important with exercise to prevent dehydration. Dehydration reduces endurance exercise performance, decreases time to exhaustion, and increases heat storage” according to the American College of Sports Medicine.