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Water You Talking About: How to Properly Hydrate for Endurance Exercise Part II

Hydration Guidelines Before, During, and After an Endurance Run:

Athletes should have a firm knowledge of how to properly hydrate before, during, and after exercise. Below are the ACSM hydration guidelines for endurance athletes.

Hydration Before ExercisernAthletes should check their hydration status prior to exercise (via a urine color test) because fluid needs vary greatly from person to person.
  • Drink 16–20 fluid ounces of water at least four hours prior to exercise
  • Drink 8–12 fluid ounces of water 10–15 minutes before beginning exercise

Hydration During Exercise Athletes should not drink more than one quart an hour during exercise. This is because too much fluid can lead to overhydration (also known as water intoxication). Overhydration can cause behavioral changes, confusion, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, weakness, and increases risk of death. Overhydration is avoided by being aware of how much fluid to consume during exercise. Sodium (salt) can also help prevent and treat overhydration.

  • Drink 3–8 fluid ounces of water every 15–20 minutes during the first 60 minutes of exercise
  • Drink 3–8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage with electrolytes every 15–20 minutes during exercise over 60 minutes

Hydration After ExercisernOnce the individual sweat rate has been calculated, the goal is to correct fluid losses within the first two hours after exercise.

  • Drink 20–24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one pound lost

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Thirst
    • Thirst is the body’s way of signaling that dehydration is near or present.
  • Headache or dizziness
    • Dehydration reduces blood flow to the brain, which can cause these symptoms.
  • Fatigue
    • Occurs when large muscles are deprived of oxygen.
  • Muscle cramps
    • Occurs when the muscles aren’t able to have the waste products efficiently removed.
  • Soreness
    • Occurs as a result of the waste buildup.
  • Reduced Performance
    • When dehydration is severe, muscles can actually break down, releasing large amounts of waste products which affect performance; furthermore if an athlete eats carbohydrates (CHO) without drinking, the CHO concentration in the stomach can become high enough to cause bloating and sickness.

Why Sports Beverages During Exercise:rn Sports drinks contain simple carbohydrates (CHO), which help to replenish sugar (glycogen) stores in the muscle. When glycogen stores are depleted, fatigue occurs. Thus, consuming a beverage that contains CHO will help prevent fatigue and sustain endurance. The recommended concentration for sports drinks is a four to eight percent CHO solution. Sports drinks also contain important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium which help to speed up rehydration and also help to prevent overhydration from occurring. Endurance athletes should drink one-half to one liter of a sports drink each hour to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.

Hydrating Foods:

Water and electrolytes can be supplied and replenished through the foods we eat as well as the beverages we consume. These foods are particularly hydrating and also provide electrolytes and vitamins that are essential to the endurance athlete.


  • Celery—96% water and provides sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc
  • Watermelon—95% water and high in vitamin C
  • Bell Peppers—92% water and high in vitamin C
  • Cucumbers—95% water and provides calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium
  • Strawberries—92% water and high in potassium
  • Cantaloupe—90% water and high in potassium

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