Hydration During Exercise

Last week I wrote a post about the best times of day to hydrate, and I’m sure it came as no surprise that key times to hydrate include before, during and after exercise. While it’s obvious that exercise requires increased hydration, many people are unaware of just how much water intake directly impacts performance. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance, impeding energy and performance.

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Image Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

Sweat is one of the obvious things that happens during a workout; it’s the way our bodies cool down when they start to heat up.  It follows that the more a person sweats, the more water they should drink to replenish. Sweat rates vary by individual and are further influenced by factors including exercise intensity, exercise duration, the climate (including temperature and humidity), and the body’s pre-exercise hydration state.  It’s straightforward to check your individual sweat rate by weighing yourself directly before and after exercise and accounting for exactly how much water you consumed during the workout……you’ll also have to either hold your pee or take your pee-volume into account. You can google “calculating perspiration rate” for more details on how to compute your rate or use a handy sweat rate calculator like this one that I found on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s website. Another quick metric of proper hydration is to note how often you’re urinating. Ideal hydration leads to urination every 1 – 2 hours, even during exercise.

Depending on your gender, age, size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups (approximately one liter) of water per hour of exercise.  If you’re working out in a hot climate, you can easily lose up to two litres of water per hour during a cardio session.

Adequate water intake before, during and after exercise does more than replenish water lost from perspiration, it also plays a key function in maintaining blood volume and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium, are lost from the body with sweat. However, except in extreme cases, losses are small and replacement during exercise is not a priority. ‘Sports drinks’ often contain electrolytes, particularly sodium. These have the effect of stimulating water absorption from the small intestine, which is beneficial during exercise. In addition, after exercise, replacing lost sodium is essential for full recovery and rehydration. Extreme athletes will require fluids from a variety of sources, not just water. However, if you’re not an extreme athlete who requires a sports drink, consider something, without the sugar and calories, that will provide a mild electrolyte boost, such as Glaceau’s smartwater or H2wOw’s all natural water enhancer, with extracts of real fruits and mineral electrolytes.

I had planned to use infogr.am to make a cool graphic that listed how much water the average person needs before, during and after a workout but during my research I found something better than anything I would be able to make! The graphic below is from a post on greatist.com and includes recommendations on how much water to drink while exercising as well as a lot of other great information.

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Make Your Water Go Further: The Best Times of Day to Hydrate

If you’re reading this post, then you already know that drinking enough water is an important component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. BUT, it may surprise you to learn that when you drink water is almost equally important. This is especially true for those of us who aren’t disciplined enough to consistently drink water at regular intervals throughout the day.

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So, if you’re like me and not always or on top of your water intake, here are some simple guidelines to follow to help ensure that you hydrate at the most important times.

1. Drink Water After Waking Up
Make this the first thing you do after getting up……before a cup of coffee. Try adding lemon for even more benefit. One or two glasses of water first thing in the morning activates internal organs and remove any toxins before your first meal of the day. You’ll feel more awake and refreshed too!

2. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before Meals
One glass of water 30 minutes before a meal helps regulate digestion, curb your appetite and moisturize the stomach lining to better handle brittle and acidic foods.

3. Drink Water 1 Hour After Meals
One glass of water an hour after the meal HELPS the body to absorb the nutrients you just ate, drinking water too soon after a meal will dilute the body’s digestive juices.

4. Drink Water When You’re Hungry
If you’re hungry between meals, drink a glass of water first to see if you’re dehydrated. Sometimes people think they’re hungry when they’re really just thirsty.

5. Drink Water Before, During and After Exercise
Hydrating before a workout will keep your body from drying out and feeling thirsty. Drink at least 12 ounces before a workout. Depending on the temperature, humidity and your body’s weight and fluid levels, you’ll need one to several servings of water to protect against dehydration during and after workouts. Following vigorous exercise, be mindful to drink enough water to replace fluids lost through perspiration.

6. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before a Shower or Bath
Showering or bathing is relaxing and helps lower blood pressure. Drinking water before will help to further thin your blood and dilate blood vessels.

7. Drink Water 30 Minutes Before Going to Bed
A glass of water before going to bed has many health benefits, including helping to avoid the thickening of the blood which can cause stroke or heart attack. Hydrating before bed also helps balance hormones, replenishes any fluid loss that can occur during the night, and reduces nighttime leg cramping.

8. Drink Water When You Feel Tired
A glass of water when you feel tired will help the brain to regain focus and the body feel energized.  If you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep but still feel tired, you may be dehydrated; fatigue can be a sign of dehydration.

9. Drink Water When You’re Exposed to Germs
If you find yourself around someone who may be ill, drink more water than usual to help wash away germs and viruses that your body may have picked up. A well-hydrated body encourages bacterial and viral invaders to move along so they don’t settle and multiply in your system. The same holds true for when you’re sick, you need to drink plenty of fluids, including water, to get better.

10. Drink Water With Medicine
Water helps your kidneys flush out medicines so they go down smoothly. Do ensure you never take medicines with liquids other than water. Only water is safe with medicines as it doesn’t contain anything that can negatively affect how medicines are absorbed.

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Paddle Board Yoga — I Absolutely Love It!

Two weeks ago I tried my first  Paddle Board Yoga class and absolutely loved it! Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga, also known as waterborne yoga is yoga taught on the water on floating boards. Fun, right? Well, I do love yoga but between the thought of exercising in a bathing suit and being on a surf board surrounded by water, I wasn’t so sure. Lucky for me, I live in San Francisco, where the weather is mild and the water is freezing, so when I called to ask what I should wear to class I was told that a bathing suit was in fact NOT appropriate and that I should wear my regular yoga gear; I liked SUP Yoga more already!

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to my class in Sausalito was beautiful and peaceful — it’s rare that I’m driving without my kids in the back so the silence combined with the gorgeous day and glistening water of the bay had me savoring every minute. As I parked my car, the reality of trying something new, that would likely be pretty challenging, had me feeling a bit apprehensive. I still needed to embrace my impending reality of standing on a surfboard surrounded by water.

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge — The No U Turn sign captured exactly how I was feeling 🙂

While I waited for class to begin I mingled with a few other students and felt a bit better as I noted that several of us were first-timers. The instructor kicked-off class and successfully eased us into the experience, taking the time to explain the equipment and letting us warm up by paddling around the Bay. Once I was on the board and paddling in the Bay, I began to relax and feel centered — the magic of exercising while in harmony with the sea and sun was already exhilarating.

As the yoga portion of the class began I quickly realized how even the simplist yoga postures take on an added intensity on the board.  The board on the water really challenges your balance, it’s constantly wobbly and taps into different muscle groups than traditional mat yoga. Moving out of one pose and into another is also more challenging — just staying still is challenging. While it was hard to adapt to the continuous motion and instability created by weight shifts on the board and movement of the water, this is also what allowed me to focus in a much deeper way than traditional yoga where my mind constantly wanders. Your entire being is switched on every minute while practicing yoga techniques on a board.  Every movement must be done with more intent and concentration. If you miscalculate your center you’re not only likely to fall out of a pose but chances are you will land in the water (which happened to me!).

SUP Yoga. Image courtesy of On Board SUP in Sausalito, CA

SUP Yoga. Image courtesy of On Board SUP in Sausalito, CA

Doing SUP yoga in the Pacific waters of Northern California has many advantages beyond the weather and invitation to wear “regular yoga gear”. The audience in the water consists of boisterous sea lions and the sky is full of glorious birds. During the final part of class, Savasana, I laid back, listened to the symphony of sea lions, birds and rippling water and watched the clouds roll by. The breathtaking beauty of it all literally soothed my soul.

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ahhhh Savasana SUP style

The complete experience gave me an adrenalin rush — like a roller coaster ride for a yoga mom 🙂 My last comparable experience to this “first” was learning how to snowboard 15 years ago. I fell trying both activities but with both I also experienced a rare drive where my body took control of my mind, my face was beaming and I couldn’t get up fast enough to try again. With both activities, the only remedy for a fall is to refocus and then get back on board and try again. Many people would see these two sports as on completely different ends of the spectrum, however what resonates for me, with these glorious outdoor activities, is being surrounded by beauty and nature and the requirement of both to be centered and focussed. Be it in the Sierras or the San Francisco Bay, I am a girl who loves the open air and the simple pleasures of being surrounded by the beauty of nature. To exercise in a gym feels like work to me but to be outside automatically brings an element of fun and a sense of spirituality.

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Feeling awesome after class!

Sup Yoga is one of the coolest outdoor activities I have ever done!  Even for non-yoga folks, I highly recommend trying it. It’s an amazing full-body workout (in the middle of paradise) that leaves you feeling refreshed and exhilarated. I will certainly be trying it again soon and next time I will remember to bring a change of clothes — “regular yoga gear” may provide more coverage than a bathing suit but it doesn’t mean that you’ll stay dry.