It’s a well-known fact that you should drink water to stay hydrated on a long bike ride or during intense workouts, but have you ever wondered why?
Considering that water makes up 60% of our body tissue and keeps our body functioning properly, it is especially important to pay attention to our water intake during exercise. Water helps to regulate our body temperature by keeping our tissue and cells hydrated. By keeping an adequate internal fluid level we are helping our muscles stay energized. When our cells are not getting enough fluids they shrink, resulting in muscle fatigue. That’s a lot of muscle pains seeing as approximately 50-75% of the US population is currently not getting enough water daily.
According to Dr. Steven Guest, from Kaiser Permanente, “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health.” (link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water) Add strenuous exercise, higher elevations, or hot temperatures to that and the amount of water loss significantly increases. Fluid loss is normal in our everyday life, but it doesn’t have to lead to dehydration and health issues.
Although there recently has been debate regarding the well-known ‘8 glasses a day’ recommendation, it is still a good guideline to follow. Depending on lifestyle, exercise habits, and where you live, the amount may be more or less. The key is to keep a good balance based on your activities. Too little water and you run the risk of being dehydrated. Too much water and your sodium levels become too low.
Although water is a great option for normal daily drinking, with strenuous exercise it’s important to keep your sodium levels optimal. Drinking sports drinks during longer exercise regimes are a good option since they contain sodium and electrolytes. Curious just how much water you should be drinking? Check out this infographic from Greatist.com http://greatist.com/fitness/how-much-water-should-you-drink-while-exercising-infographic
So whether you are outside pounding the concrete, or using your indoor bike trainer, be sure to grab that bottle of fluid before you start pedaling.