• Hydrate Right

    Reach for Water and Reach Your Goals

    The following is adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of healthy physical activity. Drinking the right amount of fluids before, during and after every physical activity is vital to providing your body the fluids it needs to perform properly.

    Hydration Goal

    The overall goal is to minimize dehydration without over-drinking. Adequate hydration varies among individuals. Practical ways to monitor hydration are:

    • Urine color
      The color of the first morning's urination is an overall indicator of your hydration status. Straw or lemonade colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration. Dark colored urine, the color of apple juice, indicates dehydration. Dark urine is often produced soon after consuming vitamin supplements.
    • Sweat loss
      Change in body weight before and after exercise is used to estimate sweat loss. Since an athlete's sweat loss during exercise is an indicator of hydration status, athletes are advised to follow customized fluid replacement plans that consider thirst, urine color, fluid intake, sweat loss and body weight changes that occur during exercise.

    Minimize Dehydration

    Dehydration can occur in virtually every physical activity scenario. It doesn't have to be hot. You don't have to have visible perspiration. You can become dehydrated in the water, at a pool or lake, or skiing on a winter day.

    Dehydration results when you fail to adequately replace fluid lost through sweating. Since dehydration that exceeds two percent body weight loss harms exercise performance, you are advised to begin exercise well hydrated, minimize dehydration during exercise and replace fluid losses after exercise.

    Be alert for conditions that increase your fluid loss through sweat:

    • Air temperature: The higher the temperature, the greater your sweat losses.
    • Intensity: The harder you work out, the more you perspire.
    • Body size and gender: Larger people sweat more. Men generally sweat more than women.
    • Duration: The longer the workout, the more fluid loss.
    • Fitness: Well-trained athletes perspire more than less fit people. Why? Athletes cool their bodies through sweat more efficiently than most people because their bodies are used to the extra stress.

    Remember swimmers sweat, too. Like any athletic activity, when you swim, your body temperature rises and your body sweats to keep from overheating. You may not notice because you are in the water, but you can become dehydrated. Swimmers, even if you’re just splashing around, need to drink fluids before, during and after swimming, even if you don't feel thirsty.

    Warning Signs

    Know the signs of dehydration. Early signs include:

    • Thirst
    • Flushed skin
    • Premature fatigue
    • Increased body temperature
    • Faster breathing and pulse rate
    • Increased perception of effort
    • Decreased exercise capacity

    Later signs of dehydration include:

    • Dizziness
    • Increased weakness
    • Labored breathing with exercise