The human body contains 60% water and of that, 75% is in the muscles. It goes to show that water takes up a significant portion of our body composition and is essential for various bodily functions. Our bodies lose water when we exercise. An hour of continuous exercise can expend up to one liter of water through sweating and breathing. Thus drinking before and after exercise is crucial to maintaining proper hydration and keeping your muscles in excellent condition.
Here, we will share some science-backed reasons why hydration is important during any physical activity.
Perhaps the most important reason why hydration is important is to keep you from getting dehydrated while doing any physical activity. It’s not just exercise that can drain your body’s water levels but excessive alcohol drinking, some medications, low humidity, and vomiting can cause dehydration as well. Of the causes of dehydration, it is from exercise and physical activity that often goes unnoticed or ignored. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often find drinking during workouts, training, or exercises quite troublesome and can affect their momentum. Thus, instead of pausing to take a drink, they can try a hydration pack to conveniently hydrate themselves without stopping or pausing to drink. They can drink while riding a bike, hiking, jogging, or doing other sports or workouts. Some signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, thirst, shortness of breath, and elevated heart rate are often mistaken for fatigue. When dehydration gets ignored often, it can lead to muscle cramps, skeletal muscle breakdown, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Thus, regular liquid replenishment is a must for people doing prolonged intense physical activity.
Improving Your Physical Performance
Water intake before, during, and after exercise helps increase your overall performance. You can perform exercises and workouts longer since your muscles are less prone to cramping. When you experience muscle cramps less frequently, you can push your athletic and physical limits and sustain your workout or exercise regimen for a longer time.
Electrolytes are essential minerals that facilitate the electrical charge transfers throughout the body. The muscles, nerves, and basic cellular functions need electrical charges to function properly and interact with other cells, tissues, and organs in our body. Thus, your liquid intake during exercise needs to have an electrolyte-replenishing formulation to give your muscles an extra boost and help you go the extra mile. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are key electrolytes that are often lost during sweating, and you need to replenish them through your energy drink. However, you should be careful not to choose sweetened variants as these exacerbate dehydration and do not help rehydrate your system.
If you are not sure about the sugar content or the artificial sweeteners in your commercial energy drinks, you can make your own rehydration solution or energy drink with water, sugar, and salt as the main mixture. For a liter of water, you will only need to add 60 to 80 grams of table sugar and half a teaspoon of table salt. For extra energy and added flavor, you can replace the table sugar with 400 to 600 grams of fruit juice for a 1-liter energy drink.
Improving Your Mental Performance
Dehydration also affects coordination, mood, and the ability to make a decision. When you get frequently dehydrated when exercising, you often feel drained and underwhelmed with your performance. It’s not just the body that is fatigued by dehydration but also the brain. The brain works harder to complete tasks that are otherwise done with ease when you are well hydrated. You lose your concentration and focus when you exercise or perform other activities. Also, when you have less water in your brain and body, your short-term and working memories can be out of whack.
On the flip side, being sufficiently hydrated improves feelings of calmness, contentment, and positive emotions. Your cognitive performance gets heightened too. Studies show that people who drank water before, during, and after performing cognitive tasks performed better than those who didn’t. Even if you are focusing on physical activity during exercise, a splendidly functioning brain can help you stay positive and lively.
Boosts Your Immune System
Another compelling reason why you should drink water more is to protect yourself against diseases. Staying hydrated is good for your heart, as it improves blood circulation and reduces the burden to the heart. It also protects against asthma, constipation, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. Studies are also being conducted on the possible role of regular hydration in preventing some types of cancer.
As we strive to live a healthy lifestyle, our physical activities often ramp up. We need to adjust our hydration according to the level of activity or movements we do. The more we expel water through sweat, breathing, and urination, the more we need to replenish our lost body fluids and electrolytes. So don’t skimp on your liquid intake and put your health at risk. Drink water regularly to help keep yourself feeling refreshed and revitalized.