6 Hydration Mistakes You’re Making During Exercise

Good hydration is important all the time — especially when you’re working out.

If you don’t drink enough fluids before, during, and after exercise, particularly when you’re sweating a lot, you could become dehydrated. Dehydration “plays a huge role in mental and physical health,” says Jamie Hickey, a NASM-certified personal trainer and registered dietitian at Truism Fitness in Philadelphia. When you’re dehydrated, “everything in your body, from your muscles to your cells to your cognitive function, is affected,” he says, adding that dehydration can also cause fatigue and dampen your motivation.

Marni Sumbal, RDN, a sports dietitian based in Greenville, South Carolina, adds that being properly hydrated helps optimize exercise performance. “It can help the blood pump more efficiently and it can help with cooling your body,” she says. “It can help with perceived exertion, so it can make you feel better.”

The exact amount you need to drink will vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and your exertion level, per the Mayo Clinic. But one of the easiest ways to monitor your hydration is to keep an eye on the color of your pee, Hickey says. When you’re well hydrated, your urine will be a pale yellow, like the color of wheat. When you’re dehydrated, it will be darker. You’ll also pee less frequently when you haven’t had enough to drink.

Other signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, dizziness, and confusion, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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