5 Hydration Tips
for Exercising in the Heat

Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Its summertime and it is hot! If you are an exerciser, you probably notice yourself sweating more whether you train indoors or outdoors. Let’s be serious, you probably are sweating just walking to your car or into the grocery store. With all this sweat, you have to be taking extra measures to stay hydrated. Just like you have to fill up your gas tank more often if you drive a lot, if you sweat a lot, you need to be drinking more.

Exercising during the hot months can easily cause dehydration if you are not careful. Check out these five hydration tips that you should pay attention to whether you workout at the gym, on the pavement or even in the pool!

Drink throughout the day: Just because you drink one glass of fluid before your workout does not mean you are hydrated. Yes, it is important to drink 16-20 oz, 2-4 hours before your workout, but you need to be drinking fluid from the time you wake up, whether you workout indoors or outdoors. The best way to tell if you are hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. Pale yellow to clear is ideal; apple juice and darker can be a sign of dehydration. Aim to drink consistently throughout the entire day to help stay hydrated and get you ready to start your workout.

Sweat and sip: When you exercise, you sweat and lose fluid. Thus, you need to be sipping throughout your whole workout. Ideally, you should consume 5-10 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. If you are a heavy sweater, you might need more than that! For many people, gulping down 10 ounces of fluid while running will make them feel sick, so sip on fluid consistently over the course of your workout to help prevent dehydration.

Rehydrate: Post-workout, you need to drink up to rehydrate your body. The recommendation is drinking 16 oz for every pound lost and 24 oz per pound lost if working out twice a day. If you have kids that play football, they probably weigh before and after a workout, but most of us do not. As a rule, drink at least 16-24 ounces of fluid post-workout and use the urine color test mentioned above to monitor your hydration status.

Don’t just drink water: When you sweat, you lose fluid and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium) and the more you sweat the more you lose. It is important that you replace electrolytes, in addition to fluid. Sports drinks can be a great option, whether they are store bought or homemade. If you exercise and sweat regularly, don’t be afraid of salt around your workout as it is replacing what was lost.

Hydrate with other foods and beverages: Most people think hydrating is all about drinking water. Water is a great hydrator, but other fluids like sports drinks, low-fat milk, smoothies, 100-percent fruit juices, tea, flavored waters, etc., all count towards fluid intake. The only thing that doesn’t count is alcohol. Taking in other fluids can help provide nutrients and electrolytes in addition to just fluid and can be great for post-workout or throughout the day. You can also hydrate with foods like fruits, vegetables, cold and hot soups, JELL-O®, etc. This summer, drink your water, but include some of these other foods and fluids to stay cool and hydrated all summer long.