Today is the longest day of the year, with predicted highs of 26º in Northampton. As much as that might not really be that hot when compared to foreign climates, when it comes to fitness - it matters!
Around 60% of your body is water and it plays a vital role in every bodily function. You can lose a lot of fluid when you exercise – as much as a litre or two an hour – mainly through sweating and breathing. So, you’ll need to drink more when you exercise.
If you don’t top this fluid back up, you can get dehydrated. This can affect both your general health and how well you can exercise. You’ll feel tired more quickly if you’re dehydrated, and you won’t be able to control your temperature as well as usual.
Water helps fuel your muscles, so drinking before, during and after exercise will boost your energy levels, and may help to prevent cramp.
Hydrate BEFORE exercising
This is the most important thing for you to do if you’re planning on joining us for an evening session, especially during the summer. If you start exercising when you are already dehydrated, your core temperature will rise faster and your heart will have to work harder than usual. This will not only impact on your training but can also lead onto possible heatstroke too.
One way to tell if you are hydrated enough is when you wee (sorry!). Have a look at the picture to the left which explains what colour urine should be when you are sufficiently hydrated.
The darker it is, the more water you need to drink.
Hydrate DURING exercise
The more you sweat when you exercise, the more you need to drink. Generally speaking, if you are hydrated enough throughout the day you won't need to drink during an hours fitness class. However this does differ depending on:
Your size. Larger people tend to sweat more than smaller people and men will often sweat more than women.
Your fitness. Fitter people tend to sweat more when exercising (and earlier too) because their bodies are used to exercise and accustomed to needing to sweat in order to cool down your skin.
The environment. You will sweat more in hot, humid conditions or if exercising in a gym without sufficient air conditioning.
The intensity of your exercise. The harder you exercise and the more effort you put in, the more you will sweat.
Hydrate AFTER exercise
As important as it is to drink plenty of water during the day before you exercise, it's equally important to replenish the lost fluids after you finish. Not only will this be refreshing, but it will help your muscles to recover as well. The sooner you start to replace the fluid, the sooner you’ll recover. TOP TIP: Leave a bottle of water in your car for after the session and drink it before you drive home 👍
Remember of course that alcohol is a diuretic, which means it removes water from your body by increasing how much urine your kidneys produce, so it's not the best thing to have after exercise (sorry...)
Energy drinks are very popular at the moment as most contain caffeine which stimulates brain function and increases alertness and concentration. Unfortunately, the caffeine in energy drinks also acts as a diuretic and promotes dehydration
Most energy drinks also contain sugar - and lots of it. For example, a standard size 250ml can of red bull contains about 27 grams of sugar which is about equivalent to 7 teaspoons. A 473ml can of Monster contains double this 😮
Many sports drinks claim that they keep you hydrated, but although drinking almost any fluid will keep you hydrated to some degree, an interesting study which took place in 2016 compared 13 different drinks including water, tea, coffee, orange as well as the top branded sports drinks and found that the ones which provided those most hydration amongst them was milk and orange!
There was also found to be no difference between the hydrating qualities of water and tea, coffee or sports drinks
For most of us taking part in exercise classes, going for a run with a friend or visiting the gym, sports drinks are not necessary.
The one bonus that sports drinks generally have over and above that of water is the taste. When exhausted, hot and thirsty there is generally nothing tastier than fresh cool water, but a lot of people dislike the taste at other times. This is the main reason why people don’t tend to drink enough water every day.
However,, if sports drinks taste nice, there is a good chance you will drink more of it and therefore be better hydrated.
The downside is that with every sports drink comes the added calories which, for most people when exercising, is the one thing they don’t need.
For top athletes, there is some suggestion that sports drinks may be beneficial when participating at top level sport, but for most of us - it’s not only cheaper to stick to water, it’s just as hydrating and doesn’t have any extra calories!
How much water is enough?
You've probably heard the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day. That's easy to remember, and it's a reasonable goal.
Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough. But other people might need more.
Unfortunately its impossible to determine exactly how much fluids you need to keep you hydrated as every day will be different based on the weather, your activity level etc.
Get to know your body and how much water you need to stay hydrated. If you feel thirsty, tired or have a dry mouth its probably a sign that you are already dehydrated so try to drink before that happens.
If you're feeling sick or have a headache, confused or disorientated it could be signs that you are over-hydrated.
Be sensible, drink little amounts often throughout the day and increase this if you know you will be exercising.
At Get Fit Today, our instructors always carry a bottle of water so if you feel dehydrated, let them know. We want you to enjoy your fitness classes, so please, please, please hydrate before the session 👍
See you in the park soon.