Hydration during exercise

What do you always make sure you have before you head off to the gym? For some people it might be a towel, for others it might be their headphones. But for most of us, we wouldn’t dream of starting a workout without having a bottle of water close at hand. We all seem to know more nowadays about how much water we need to be drinking throughout the day but do we know how much to drink when we are working out? Can you drink too much? And is it best to drink more water before or after you train?

Do you remember the first time you got a stitch as a child? It felt like you were going to pass out there and then. Of course you soon learn that it will pass and you get used to the pain. All the same, that doesn’t stop it being painful and a nightmare to deal with. And if you have ever found yourself drinking non-stop throughout a workout you will have probably noticed that a stitch is never too far away.

Staying hydrated before and after the workout is a given. There are all sorts of ways to help you remember to keep drinking throughout the day, particularly before you exercise. If you have a pre-workout ritual, try adding hydration to that. So if you always stretch and take onboard supplements just before you train, just remember to have a bottle of water at the same time. Remembering to drink plenty of water seems like the easiest thing to do in the world but so many of us don’t drink enough.

How much you drink when you are working out will often depend on the length of the workout itself. If you have ever watched a marathon you will have seen the competitors drink water as they are going around. The same is true of cyclists at the Tour de France. That is because these people are exercising for hours at a time. It just wouldn’t be possible to get all the hydration you need before you start. So they have to top it up as they go. But notice they never down a bottle of water in one. The emphasis is far more on having small sips regularly to keep the levels of hydration constant.

If you are reading this and exercise is the furthest thing from your mind, then I would still recommend proper hydration as one of the first things you need to try if you want to get fit. Of course, at some point you will have to start exercising regularly but there is nothing wrong with getting your diet in check first. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference just drinking water can have.

When I’m asked why I recommend small sips of water when training I tend to turn to boxing as my example. Anyone who has indulged in a Rocky marathon will know that boxers sip water and then spit it straight out. Why is that? Well if you had a stomach full of water and then took a hard shot to the body, that water would come straight back up! Now I’m not saying you need to spit it out but small sips will keep the amount of water in your stomach relatively low and allow you to do high-intensity exercise without having to fear throwing up.

Ollie Lawrence
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