Why is staying hydrated so important?

Staying hydrated is always important, and it becomes even more important when exercising. Water has many functions; it regulates body temperature, lubricates joints as well as transports nutrients and waste throughout the body. Failing to maintain and replace lost fluid during exercise can cause dehydration effecting performance and safety. Becoming dehydrated can lead to fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Factors that can increase this risk are: excess sweating, dry hot or very cold weather, altitude, exercising at high intensity or long duration.

Two simple ways to estimate adequate hydration:

* Monitor urine quantity and color -- Ample amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; small amount of dark colored urine most likely means you are dehydrated.

* Weigh yourself before and after exercise --  Weight loss is likely from fluid loss which means you need to drink to replenish those losses. Weight gain could mean you are drinking more than you need.

If exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more, it may be helpful to drink a Sports drink to replace the loss of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes. Usually during normal activities and exercise, it is unlikely there would be a need for an electrolyte drink.

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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.