Drinking too much or too little for exercise

You can lose a lot of fluid during exercise, especially when it’s hot, so it’s important to drink enough before, during and afterwards.  If you’ve drunk sufficiently throughout the day, you shouldn’t need to guzzle a litre of water at class!

Too much

If you drink too much water, you can dilute the salts in your body and your cells swell up, which can cause a number of health problems.

Too little

If you’re dehydrated before you even start exercising your core temperature will rise faster and your heart will have to work harder than usual.

Before exercise

BUPA say “Drink steadily during the day and aim to drink around 500ml of fluid at least four hours before you exercise. In the 10 to 15 minutes before you exercise, top your fluid levels by drinking about half of this again.”

During exercise

BUPA say “If you’re exercising for less than an hour, water is all you need to keep you hydrated. If you’re exercising for longer than an hour, sports drinks that contain carbohydrate or even just squash, can help you keep going as the sugar provides extra fuel.”

After exercise

BUPA say “Sports drinks or water with a pinch of salt can help to restore your fluid levels…Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks straight after exercise because they are diuretics”.

Sports drinks

There are now so many different sports drinks, you may not know which to choose. Most of us who do moderate amounts of exercise won’t need them, but if you’re doing a lot of strenuous training, they may be useful. They replace lost fluid and contain carbohydrates and electrolytes which provide your body with fuel and help to keep you hydrated.

There are three main types:

  • Hypotonic drinks – low in carbohydrate, designed to replace fluids
  • Isotonic drinks – moderate amount of carbohydrats, help replace fluids and replenish carbohydrates
  • Hypertonic fluids – high concentration of carbohydrate, your body absorbs them more slowly than plain water, but gives you a real boost with refuelling

For more information and recipes for your own sports drinks, read the full BUPA article.