Before you begin training or running for a marathon or take your exercise outdoors, it is so important to make certain you stay hydrated before, during, and after running outdoors. This is especially important in the hot summer months, when we sweat more and become dehydrated at a faster rate. The human body is comprised of 70 percent of water and water is essential for digestion, circulation, and every bodily function. When we don’t drink enough water, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration can make it difficult to maximize your performance with any outdoor exercise and in some cases, can be dangerous to your overall health. Finding the right balance of how much water to drink before, during, and after exercising outdoors can be tricky. Especially, since drinking too much water before running outdoors can also be detrimental to your health and performance.
So, how do you strike the right balance of hydration when exercising outdoors?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should drink two 8 ounce cups of water, two hours before exercising outdoors in the warm summer months to ensure you are properly hydrated. Then, during your outdoor run or walk, try to drink 4-6 ounces every 15-20 minutes to keep your muscles well-hydrated. If you are planning an hour-long run or walk, fill your water bottle with at least 16 ounces of water. However, if you plan to be exercising outdoors longer than an hour, a sports drink with some carbohydrates and a salt mixture is a better option to help replace the nutrients lost from sweating. When selecting a sports drink, make sure you choose an option that does not include a lot of artificial flavors, sweeteners, artificial coloring, and other chemicals. One of my favorite items to add to my water is the NUUN tablets, which has the proper amount of electrolytes, salt, and carbs.
Did you know we get about 80 percent of our total water intake from drinking water and other beverages and the other 20 percent comes from the foods we eat? One way you can determine if you are dehydrated before running or walking outdoors is to check the color of your urine. Dark colored urine indicates the need for more water and lighter colored urine would indicate less water is needed for proper hydration. So, make sure you pay attention to these indicators to ensure you are properly hydrated. You can also determine how much water you will need before exercising outdoors by weighing yourself without any clothes before and after you exercise. The amount of weight you lose after you exercise should be replenished with fluid equal to 150% of the pounds lost. As an example, if you lost five pounds after your workout, you would drink 7.5 to 8 ounces of water to replenish weight lost from sweat.
How to Recognize When You Are Dehydrated
Some of the early signs of dehydration include having a dry mouth, feeling thirsty, low energy, feeling lightheaded or disoriented, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, dark urine, and the inability to stand or speak well. If you ever notice any of these signs or symptoms for yourself or someone else, and water intake does not help, you should seek immediate medical attention.