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How can I stay hydrated if I'm physically active?

Following are some tips on the best ways to stay hydrated:

  • Water should be the beverage of choice. A water bottle can be kept in the car, on a bike, at the beach, in the garden or at the golf course. Keeping a water bottle is environmentally smart and water is void of calories. Save the sports drinks for exercising more than an hour or during high heat and humidity.
  • Fruits and veggies contain water too. Watermelon, grapes, berries, bell peppers, tomatoes and other juicy produce contain tons of water.
  • Be aware of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can lead to additional fluid losses. For every alcoholic drink have one non-alcoholic drink. Remember to drink in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
  • Thirst and dry mouth can be signs of mild dehydration. People should drink even if they don't feel thirsty. It’s important to drink regularly throughout the day.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Active individuals need to drink a minimum of 2-3 liters of water or water-based fluids every day. Proper hydration leads to enhanced thermoregulation and increased oxygen exchange in the lungs. The well-hydrated exerciser should have a more comfortable and productive workout. Even slight dehydration hinders organ function, dampens the elimination of toxins and wastes, and causes metabolism to suffer. If you do nothing beyond increasing the amount of water you drink every day, you will likely notice increased energy, more radiant skin, enhanced mental focus, and greater stamina during physical exertion.

The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for hydration around exercise are as follows:

  • Hydrate well in the 24 hours preceding exercise.
  • Drink 400-600 ml of fluid two hours before training
  • Drink 150-350 ml of fluid every 15-20 minutes during training
  • Drink water before meals. A study presented at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston found that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals led to sustained weight loss. After doing so, subjects ate 75-90 fewer calories during meals.
  • Don't use thirst as an indicator for hydration needs. You're already dehydrated when you feel thirsty. This is especially crucial when exercising in hot weather.
Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training Specialist

It's important to stay hydrated when you're physically active. In this video, Donovan Green will talk about how much water you should drink daily. 

Obi Obadike
Fitness Specialist

Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. I would advise anybody to drink about four to six glasses of water a day. There is a lot information around that says to drink eight glasses of water per day, but many people don’t realize that 20 to 30 percent of what you eat also contains water, whether you're eating rice, potatoes, vegetables or oatmeal and other common foods. If you are consuming a couple cups of water as part of your regular diet, drinking eight glasses of water per day could be a little too much.

If you are a marathon runner, logging 10 to 15 miles per day, then your body would require eight glasses of water per day or even more because of how much water you will lose while working out. But for most  physically active people, I think drinking four to six cups of water per day is sufficient for hydration purposes.

You can stay hydrated if you're physically active by preparing ahead of time. It's important to stay hydrated with water before you're going to be outside engaging in activities with extra heat. You also need to drink a lot of water and fluids during your time in the heat and continue to do so afterwards because you will be losing a lot of water through evaporation. That is the main way the body can self-regulate and cool itself down. If you don't have that water there to help with that, then it's going to put you at a disadvantage in dealing with heat illnesses.

Hydration in hot weather is critical. Before you even get to heat stroke, you get to heat exhaustion, and that is due to either water depletion or salt depletion. Staying hydrated with water is very, very important.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.