Hydration Fundamentals


a hiker drinking from a water bottle

The grownup human physique is about 60 p.c water, and even mild train can deplete that share, leaving you feeling crummy and interfering along with your athletic efficiency. So, whether or not you’re mountain climbing, biking, snowboarding, operating, climbing or just strolling throughout city, it’s vital to hydrate correctly. That can assist you learn the way, this text covers:

  • How a lot to drink
  • Suggestions for staying hydrated
  • Find out how to keep away from improper hydration

How A lot to Drink

a hiker taking a hydration break on the trail

How a lot it’s worthwhile to drink relies on a lot of components, such because the exercise you’re doing, depth degree, period, climate, your age, your sweat fee and your physique sort. An excellent common suggestion is a few half liter of water per hour of average exercise in average temperatures. You could want to extend how a lot you drink because the temperature and depth of the exercise rise. For instance, strenuous mountain climbing in excessive warmth could require that you simply drink 1 liter of water or extra per hour. As you achieve expertise, you’ll fine-tune how a lot you drink.

For data on hydrating particularly for path operating, see our article, Hydration Fundamentals for Path Operating.

Hydration Suggestions

a hiker reaching for an easily accessible water bottle

Preserve water obtainable: The exercise you’re doing will seemingly decide precisely the place you stow your water, however the secret’s to maintain it useful. For sports activities like mountain climbing, backpacking and mountain biking, a hydration reservoir is a wonderful choice. If you happen to want to make use of a bottle, stash it someplace accessible, like a mesh pocket that’s on the facet of many backpacks. For operating, think about a handheld operating bottle, a waistbelt or a hydration vest.

Store operating packs

Drink usually: Fairly than chugging water sometimes, take many smaller sips to repeatedly hydrate.

Substitute electrolytes: While you sweat, you lose electrolytes, and for those who lose too many, your efficiency can undergo. In case your exercise lasts for less than an hour or much less, this normally isn’t a difficulty, however once you’re out for longer it’s vital to compensate for the loss. Focus totally on changing sodium and potassium, however calcium and magnesium are additionally vital. The best means to do that is with an electrolyte alternative sport drink. You should buy handy powders and tablets to pre-mix with water earlier than you head exterior or to hold with you whilst you’re on the market. Comply with the instructions on the packaging for mixing and consuming.

Store sports activities drinks

Drink extra at altitude: Doing any exercise at larger altitude can result in dehydration. You’re much less prone to crave water and really feel thirsty at larger elevations, so it’s vital to drink continuously.

Drink even in chilly climate: You could not really feel like taking a swig of chilly water on a winter day, however it’s simply as vital to remain correctly hydrated in chilly climate as it’s in scorching climate. Packing alongside a scorching drink is usually a good technique to maintain your self hydrated.

Pre-hydrate: It’s frequent observe to pre-hydrate earlier than exercising. A common suggestion is to drink about 17–20 fl. oz. about two hours earlier than heading out.

Rehydrate: Consuming after train will get your fluid ranges again to regular and may also help with restoration. This may be so simple as consuming a glass of water once you get dwelling, or if you wish to get scientific about it, drink 16–24 fl. oz. of water for each pound you misplaced whereas exercising.

Additionally, take into account that generally it’s worthwhile to rehydrate earlier than you pre-hydrate. For instance, for those who haven’t had any water in a very long time, similar to after an evening of sleeping, chances are you’ll have to drink some water to rehydrate after which go about pre-hydrating to your exercise.

Plan your route: Water weighs quite a bit (16 fl. oz. is simply over a pound), so if you wish to keep away from carrying further weight on a run or bike journey, plan a route that can take you by a water fountain the place you’ll be able to drink or refill a bottle. Another choice is to make use of your automotive like an assist station and plan an outing that does loops out of your automobile. You’ll be able to cease at your automotive to refill a water bottle and seize a fast snack.

Within the mountains, both carry sufficient water to get you thru the period of your outing, or convey a water filter and know the place a lake or stream is which you could refill from.

Put on solar safety: Getting a sunburn can expedite dehydration, so lather up with sunscreen or put on sun-protection clothes earlier than heading out.

Store sunscreen

Set a timer: If you happen to are likely to lose monitor of the final time you drank, set a timer in your watch to sound an alarm about each 20 minutes as a reminder to take a sip.

Store operating watches

Store GPS sports activities watches

Dangers of Improper Hydration

a sweaty biker drinking from the hose of hydration reservoir


Dehydration happens when the lack of physique fluids, normally by sweating, exceeds the quantity taken in. As soon as you have reached the purpose of feeling thirsty, dehydration has already begun. If you happen to don’t counteract this by consuming water, the physique will proceed to supply indicators that it’s operating low on fluids:

Early indicators of dehydration:

  • thirst
  • dry mouth
  • lower in power

Extra severe signs of dehydration:

  • cramps
  • complications
  • nausea
  • the “umbles” (stumbling, mumbling, grumbling and fumbling)
  • darkish urine with much less quantity (word that nutritional vitamins like B12 could cause urine to be shiny yellow, which can not point out dehydration)
  • lower in your efficiency

The treatment for dehydration is straightforward: Drink water. It’s higher to take frequent sips of water fairly than chugging bigger quantities sometimes. Including in sport/power drinks may also help restore carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Double-check your water consumption by weighing your self earlier than and after train: It is best to weigh about the identical. When you’ve got misplaced a number of kilos, then you definately’re in all probability not consuming sufficient water. For each pound misplaced, drink 16–24 fl. oz. of water and plan to extend your fluid consumption subsequent time. With that stated, it may be very tough, if not not possible, to keep up your physique weight throughout intense train, particularly on a scorching day, so do not be shocked for those who weigh much less.



The flip facet to dehydration is overhydration, or hyponatremia. This can be a pretty uncommon situation that primarily impacts endurance athletes similar to marathon runners, ultrarunners and triathletes.

In hyponatremia, sodium ranges within the blood change into so diluted that cell operate turns into impaired. In very excessive instances, hyponatremia could trigger coma and even demise.

The signs of hyponatremia are much like dehydration: fatigue, headache and nausea, inflicting some athletes to mistakenly drink extra water and exacerbate the difficulty.

Stopping overhydration: The important thing to stopping overhydration is to watch how a lot you drink.

  • Don’t overdrink—Follow consuming about 10 fl. oz. about each 20 minutes and check out to not drink greater than you sweat. Weight achieve throughout train is a telltale signal that you simply’re consuming an excessive amount of.
  • Add salt—Preserve your salt ranges balanced by often consuming a sports activities drink with electrolytes as a substitute of plain water and/or consuming a salty snack, similar to pretzels. You too can take salt tablets.


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