All You Need to Know About Staying Hydrated Before, During, and After Exercising

Many are confused about when to drink and how much water to drink during exercise, but we’ve got you covered.

Woman drinking water to stay hydrated while exercising outside.

Did you know that over 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? We’ve all heard that we should be drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day, but how much water do we really need?

The truth is, our water needs vary based on our lifestyle and dietary habits. Consuming lots of alcohol or sodium can increase your daily water needs, as can exercise. If you’re very active, eight glasses of water may not be enough.

Fortunately, getting the right amount of water into your routine can be easy. Here are a few tips to show you how:

Before hitting the gym

Because everyone’s body is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how much water to drink before exercising, but one recent study recommends drinking 15 to 20 ounces of water about four hours before exercising, followed by another eight ounces 20-30 minutes before your workout. This helps make sure that you’re well hydrated before you ever start sweating, and that’s important – studies show that being dehydrated prior to your workout could reduce your performance level by up to 20%.

During your sweat session

Many people are confused about when, and how much, to drink during a workout, but the answer is simple. Drinking 10 ounces of water for every 10-20 minutes of exercise should keep your body performing at its best and save you from the repercussions of dehydration later on.

Post workout

Figuring out how much water your body needs after a workout can also vary depending on the duration of the workout, the temperature outside, and your own body. One method to get a ballpark figure is by weighing yourself before and after your workout. For each pound difference between pre and post workout, doctors recommend drinking about 16-24 ounces of water.

Related: Stay Hydrated and Avoid the Dangers of Dehydration by Drinking More Water

Signs of Dehydration:

Experts say we should be drinking an amount of water in ounces equal to half our body weight in pounds each day, but most Americans aren’t drinking anywhere near that much. While severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention and causes symptoms like nausea, seizures, confusion, and fevers, signs of chronic dehydration are more subtle—namely:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin

Chronic dehydration isn’t life-threatening, but those who are suffering from it won’t perform at their best, whether that’s in the gym, in the workplace, or even at home, so it’s important to stay on top of your hydration.

If you struggle staying hydrated, try keeping a large water bottle with you and refilling it multiple times a day. You can even try labeling how much water to drink each hour. Keeping a stash of water-heavy fruits and vegetables like grapes, oranges, or celery with you can also lend a hand in the hydration game. But most of all, do yourself a favor and drink, drink, drink before, during, and after exercise—you’ll thank yourself later.

Related: Hate Plain Water? Stay Hydrated with Sparkling or Mineral Water

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