Drink Up for Sports and Fitness
The best beverages to help you stay hydrated
Summertime is here, so you've got no more excuses for not going outside to
get some physical activity. Outdoor activity is a great way to put the fun into
fitness -- but it requires paying special attention to hydration.
When it's warm, your body perspires more to help you cool down. And
depending on the temperature, humidity, and the nature of your activity, you
might not even realize how much you are perspiring.
Don't rely on thirst alone to tell you how much you need to drink. To keep
those muscles working and avoid fatigue; it's extremely important to drink
plenty of liquids before, during, and after the activity.
Drink Up -- Before, During and After
A good guideline to use when preparing for an outdoor workout, whether it's
walking, running, biking, or tennis, is to drink about two cups of fluid two
hours before the activity. That helps make sure you are well-hydrated before
you ever go outdoors.
Then, during the activity, try to drink 4-6 ounces every 15-20 minutes to
keep your muscles well-hydrated. If you are planning an hour-long walk or gym
workout, fill a water bottle with about 16 ounces (2 cups) and take it with
Last, drink up after you're finished with your exercise. If you really want
to be precise, weigh yourself before you start exercising and again when you
are finished. For each pound of water weight you lose, drink 20 ounces of
Which Liquids Are Best?
For most outdoor activities, good old-fashioned tap water does the trick. If
your activity lasts an hour or more, either fruit juice diluted with water or a
sports drink will provide carbohydrates for energy plus minerals to replace
lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) in your sweat.
Sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and All Sport can give you a needed
energy boost during your activity. They are designed to rapidly replace fluids
and to increase the sugar (glucose) circulating in your blood.
Read the label to determine which sports drink that is best for you.
Ideally, it will provide around 14 grams of carbohydrates, 28 mg of potassium,
and 100 mg of sodium per 8-ounce serving. The drink's carbohydrates should come
from glucose, sucrose, and/or fructose -- all of which are easily and quickly
absorbed. It shouldn't be carbonated, as the bubbles can lead to an upset
Most sports beverages are well-diluted and contain relatively few calories.
If the flavor of a sports drink helps you drink up and maintain hydration, by
all means enjoy. If you're worried about the added calories, try diluting your
sports drink with water or pouring it into a thermos packed with ice.