Recovery (Part 4) – Hydration

Thanks to the extremely hot summers we are blessed with here in Perth, we couldn’t have a recovery blog series with pushing the virtues of hydration!

It is important to pay attention to hydration before, during and after exercise. First and foremost it is essential to remain hydrated to remain safe and healthy while exercising. Hydration also plays a role in recovery and should be considered as part of your plan post exercise, in a similar way to how you would plan nutrition.

Did you know that fluid levels influence:

  • Blood volume level- which is important to allow blood to carry oxygen to our muscles while we are exercising. Less oxygen = less ability to exercise well.
  • Regulation of body temperature through sweating. This allows our body to stay cool and avoid overheating.
  • Dehydration negatively impacts our bodies recovery and adaptive changes.

So how much water should a recreational exerciser have?

The average person needs about 1.5L of fluid per day in mild conditions, this increases in hot climates and exercise which causes fluid loss through sweating. So if you’re exercising vigorously in the heat, you might need to double this figure.

A really good and easy indicator of hydration is to check the colour of your urine. Urine should be a straw colour. If it is dark in colour you are likely dehydrated and should drink more water.

Hydrate before, thank yourself after

Ensure that you are hydrated before you exercise. If you begin exercising already dehydrated you will struggle during the session and find it difficult to rehydrate after. Additionally, you may experience cramping and gastrointestinal upset and not be able to perform at your best. Long story short, exercising when dehydrated can be dangerous!

Pre-workout tips

  • Make sure you’re hydrated and your urine is straw coloured
  • Try not to ┬áconsume excessive amounts of water prior to exercise.
  • Have a slightly elevated fluid intake for 24 hours before a big workout, particularly in the heat
  • Having some electrolytes pre- (or post) workout can help

You should continue to rehydrate for 4-6 hours after you exercise, particularly if the exercise was strenuous or in the heat. Pay attention to your fluid intake and your urine output and colour as a guide.

Remember to take hydration seriously to aid your recovery and help you perform at your best!