How much water should I drink?

As a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I encourage my class participants and clients to remain hydrated throughout the day and during exercise. But, exactly how much water should we drink on a daily basis? Because there are many different thoughts on the amount of water one should drink daily, it’s best to understand the nutrient, the general recommendations for adequate intake, and the effects of dehydration. This attachment, with information collected by Dorene D. Robinson, RD CDN of BeyondDiets.com, summarizes the above topics and can be a great resource.

Know that your water needs change when exercising, because water provides cooling for the body. Your fitness level, the altitude, the outdoor temperature and your acclimatization to the environment are factors that contribute to your hydration needs. Dehydration will cause you to fatigue faster, make you think you are working harder than you really are, and increase your lactic acid levels much quicker. Here are a few guidelines to follow when exercising:

Pre-exercise hydration Work to drink a generous amount of water 24 hours prior to exercise. Two to three hours prior to exercise, drink approximately 2-3 cups. Ten to twenty minutes prior to exercise, drink approximately 1 cup.

During Exercise Maintain your hydration and electrolyte levels by drinking approximately 1 cup of water every 10 to 20 minutes. If exercising beyond 60 minutes (endurance sports) consider an electrolyte replacement.

Post Exercise Hydration Rehydrate as soon as possible. Drink 2-3 cups for every pound lost. Sports drinks are good choices. Avoid large amounts in a short time.

If you feel you may not be drinking enough water in general, I’d suggest creating a baseline for water intake. Use this Water & Fluid Intake worksheet or try an app. Review your findings, make adjustments and re-evaluate every 30 days. A daily journal is helpful when reflecting on energy levels, mood, elimination habits, and metal alertness.

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