Waiting until you’re thirsty to drink is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make, whether out for a long run or just going about your daily life. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already experiencing the symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration leads to all sorts of issues from headaches to aging faster to death.
Cause of Dehydration
The main causes of dehydration is not drinking enough water (the obvious but must be stated), sweating, especially excessively, physically activity in hot, dry locations, drinking only when thirsty, high altitudes, and not drinking before, during and after heavy physical activity (this includes exercising). Illness can also cause dehydration especially is you have a fever, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Most of us know that ours bodies are composed of about 60% water. Our brains actually are made of about 70% water, so you can imagine what happens to your brain if you start feeling dehydrated. Everything slows down. You don’t feel good, start feeling sleepy, and can even develop headaches.
Learn to recognize the symptoms of dehydration so that you can act upon them immediately when you notice them. Dry mouth, headaches, fatigue and muscle cramps are often the most common first symptoms. Dizziness, dark urine, or the inability to urinate and heat stroke or exhaustion are more severe signs.
How Much Fluid You Need
How much you need to drink to stay hydrated varies per person (one of those areas where you are unique from another person). One way to monitor if you are getting enough way is to keep an eye on your urine. When getting enough fluids, your urine will be clear and light in color; when not getting enough, it turns much darker.
Start Drinking Before Your Run
If working out, it’s also important to start hydrating a minimum of an hour beforehand. Most people remember to drink some while working out, but it takes time for your body to absorb water into the cells and spread it through the body. If you start working out without proper hydration (being “pre-hydrated,”) the water you drink while working out will not start to take effect until about a half hour into the workout.
Weigh Yourself Before and After Exercise
The water you drink during the workout will replenish your body in the later parts of the workout and after which is very important. Keep hydrating after you exercise. Research shows that you can lose up to 2% of your body weight in fluid loss during a heavy workout with extreme sweating. You need to replace all of this loss, so try to remember to weigh yourself before and after the workout to know how much fluid you need to replace. People working physically in hot, dry and high altitude climates also need to worry about monitoring fluid loss and keeping it replaced.
Learn to keep water on hand with you to help combat dehydration. Water bottles are always handy for people on the go because you can carry them with you everywhere you go. A little known fact is that you can even carry them in airports; they just have to be empty until you get through airport security, and afterwards you can fill them in a water fountain if you like.
Don’t get stuck without water. Water is your best friend!