Benefits of Hydration During Exercise

A youth football plaeyer drinking water with his shoulder pads and helmet on. Benefits of Hydration during Exercise

Often when we talk about hydration, people assume that ‘more is always better’, but that’s not always necessarily the case. We know that it’s even more important for children and the elderly to keep hydrated. We also know that regardless of age, most people do not get enough water. These factoids don’t give us the green light to chug with reckless abandon, even during a workout. That’s why we’re hoping to give you a better understanding about the benefits of hydration during exercise.

Our bodies are amazing machines that carefully titrate the balance between water, salt, and several other chemicals and compounds, and is constantly attempting to optimize that ratio for maximum efficiency.

Let us focus first on the young, school-aged athlete – kids between the ages of 10-16. This is typically when young bodies are going through the most changes as they become adults. That being said, appropriate hydration becomes that much more important – not only are these adolescents changing and growing at a rapid pace, but they’re pushing their bodies to their physical limits simultaneously. Drinking the right amount of clean, safe water will not only boost athletic performance and reduce injury risk, but it will also provide the body with enough water to aid in muscle development and brain function during these high-demand years.

A youth soccer player understanding the Benefits of Hydration during Exercise
Photo Credit: Chesapeake Family

For adults, most of the same rules apply. 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. Again, it takes being just 2% dehydrated to see and feel decreases in abilities both physical and mental.

“Almost every measurement of performance – aerobic endurance, strength, power, speed, agility and reaction time – decreases with as little as 2% dehydration,” explains Noel Williams, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics at Children’s Health Andrews Institute Sports. “Staying hydrated increases energy improves movement, recovery and agility, thermoregulation, and aids in mental clarity and activity – all of which can improve physical performance and reduce the risk of injuries.”

Let’s go a little deeper and examine the best times to drink water during your workout. The American Council on Exercise recommends:

  • Drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before a workout.
  • 20 to 30 minutes beforehand, drink another 8 ounces.
  • While exercising, continue to drink 7 to 10 ounces about every 10 to 20 minutes.

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.

If you exercise for a significantly longer amount of time than usual, or find yourself in a boiling or humid environment (talking to you, marathon runners and iron men & women), your body might need more than just water to restore that balance we mentioned earlier (water, salt, carbs, etc.). That’s when it’s OK to turn to neon-colored sports drinks that everyone seems to chug.

While I will not say these drinks are ‘good’ for you, they help in restoring salt and carbohydrates to a body depleted. Your typically healthy, an average-sized person can produce as much as 32 ounces of sweat in a 60-minute session of vigorous indoor exercise, and obviously, an even higher number is capable when exposed to the elements. While that might sound like a stretch, you shouldn’t be affected if you’ve properly prepared throughout the day by, you guessed it, drinking the recommended amount of water.

Finally, we move our focus to the largest segment of the population, seniors. Between now and 2050, the United States will experience considerable growth in its older population.

In 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012. Knowing the benefits of hydration during exercise is the most difficult for this group based on several internal and external factors such as

  • Water retention/regulation declines with age
  • Side effects of prescriptions (ie: diuretics)
  • Aging people may not feel thirst as readily
  • Health issues such as diarrhea, excessive sweating, etc. rid the body of water
  • Kidney function decline; resulting in inefficiencies in the body concentrating urine in less water
  • More severe health issues (IE: diabetes)

Exercise is especially important for this age group for obvious reasons, but because of the issues keeping and regulating water, it’s paramount that we continuously keep the seniors in our life hydrated AND moving.

Let me tell you, this can be tricky – but with patience, communication, and understanding we can help the seniors we love to live happier healthier ‘golden age’ years.

For more information about how you can help the loved ones in your life (young or old) with constant access to clean, safe water – call us. We’re here to help!

Wishing you happiness, health, and hydration throughout the summer and beyond