Fitness · Health

Water and Exercise—It’s About More Than Thirst

Jonathan for web

This is another post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, advises that water is an essential nutrient for your body that needs to become a habit.


In addition to having a good pair of gym shoes, women who exercise regularly need to be conscious about staying well hydrated. When your body heats up through exercise, you lose more fluids and essential minerals (electrolytes like sodium and potassium) than you normally would on less active days. If you sweat enough, you may even notice a white (salt) stain on your clothing post-exercise. As a general rule, the Institute of Medicine recommends that women drink “about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.” But, that’s just for daily activity in normal conditions. People who exercise, or those who live in high elevations or in warmer climates, need to drink even more. How much more exactly I’ll get into in a moment, but first it is my opinion from years of training in endurance sports, that relying on your thirst to tell you when to drink is not good enough.

Every year, we hear more stories of athletes collapsing from dehydration. Yet there was water available for them. They just didn’t realize it until it was too late. Dehydration symptoms don’t always start with feeling thirsty. Fatigue, headaches, and constipation, are symptoms that can precede thirst, and over time, not drinking enough water can lead to high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, weight gain, and muscle cramps. The fact is that water is such an essential nutrient for your body that drinking it needs to become a habit—not just when you feel like it.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to water and exercise, and it is possible to drink too much water (hyponatremia), which has it’s own negative consequences. So, before you guzzle a 64-ounce bottle of water, let me give you some general guidelines.

  1. Drink a full 16-ounces of cool water 20-30 minutes before your cardio workout. (Note: a regular sized water bottle is 16 ounces).
  2. Drink 6 to 8 ounces of water after every 30 minutes of exercise.
  3. Be prepared: if you’re going for a long power walk around the park, don’t assume there will be water fountains along the way. Bring your own water with you. 
  4. Use common sense: if you are going to be exercising in warm conditions and you know you are going to be sweating a lot, drink a little more frequently and a little more quantity.
  5. Check your weight before and then again about an hour or so after your workout. Drink 16 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost.
  6. Pure water is best. Sports drinks like Gatorade are generally not necessary to properly hydrate the body before, during, or after exercise as they usually contain copious amounts of sodium (salt). Only if you have been doing high intensity exercising and been sweating profusely for over 45 minutes would some sports rehydration drink be appropriate, and even then diluting it with a half water mix. As an alternative, you could make your own electrolyte replacement drink by adding a pinch of salt to homemade lemonade.

Make drinking water a healthy, conscious habit, just like regular exercise. Invest in a good re-usable water container (examples below), and carry it with you throughout your day. Be proactive with hydration; don’t wait till you are thirsty to drink. Your body will thank you!!


Camelbak eddy Insulated bottlesCamelbak® eddy Insulated 0.6L (20oz) Reusable Water Bottle  $16.99

• Insulated reusable water bottle replaces disposable plastic water bottles
• Improved, patented Big Bite valve for faster flow, greater leak prevention
• Integrated hook for clipping to a carabiner or easy carrying by hand
• All parts are dishwasher safe and free of BPA, phthalates and other toxins




Contigo Autoseal Stainless Steel Water BottleContigo 20oz. AUTOSEAL® Fit Stainless Steel Water Bottle  $22.99

· Thermalock™ double-wall vacuum-insulation keeps drinks cold for up to 18 hours
· AUTOSEAL® lid automatically seals between sips to eliminate spills and leaks
· Sturdy clip on handle attaches to bags, backpacks, gear and more
· Leak and spill proof
· Protective spout shield
· One-handed drinking
· BPA-free





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  • Leslie in Oregon July 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    And here I thought this would be an article comparing deep-water and shallow-water aerobics!