Keeping Your Fluid Levels Up
By Ryann Roberts, DPT
AZOPT Owner & Physical Therapist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

There’s nothing better than a cold glass of water after a workout, but don’t forget to fuel up on liquids before you hit the gym.  Athletes can lose a significant amount of fluid during physical activity; the more rigorous the routine, the more water they’ll need to replace – and who does not participate in rigorous exercise routines?

Approximately two-thirds of an average adult’s weight is made up of water.  Fluids are essential to proper body functioning, including temperature regulation, joint movement, and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.  Dehydration, therefore, can elevate body temperatures, strain the cardiovascular system, and lead to heat injury.  Maintaining fluid levels is critical to any exercise routine.

The American College of Sports Medicine not only recommends adequate fluid replenishment, but also advises athletes to increase sodium intake after a strenuous workout.  While current medical advice calls for a reduced sodium diet, the temporary uptick in sodium is necessary to counteract the loss of electrolytes during physical exercise.

The next time you gear up for athletic activity, keep the following in mind:

Load up.  Drink 1 or 2 cups of water 30 minutes before starting exercise.

Maintain your levels.  Drink between ½ and 1 cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise to replenish your fluids.

Weigh yourself.  Check your weight before and after exercise, and drink 2.5 cups of water for every pound lost during your workout.

Don’t rely on thirst. Water may be known as a “thirst quencher,” but if you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.  Drink plenty of water after a workout, even if you’re not thirsty.  When your thirst is quenched, drink some more; you may not feel you need water, but your body does.

Use your body’s natural indicators.  Urine can signal whether you’re adequately hydrated; look for a pale color, as opposed to a dark yellow, to know when your body has enough fluids.

Beware over-consumption.  While dehydration is a danger, drinking too much water can also pose a risk.  Athletes who consume excessive amounts of fluid can suffer from water intoxication, which occurs when sodium levels are depleted.  Be on the lookout for these symptoms: dizziness, nausea, apathy, confusion.

Eat your fluids.  Consider other forms of liquid refreshment to keep hydrated throughout the day.  Fruit, vegetables, and tea provide fluids and nutritional benefits.  But immediately after exercise, stick to water or electrolyte-enhanced fluids – they pack the best replenishing punch.