Hydration and training

4 min. read
Hydration and training
BY Virgin Active
Posted On 12 September, 2023

There’s not much evidence to support the notion that we should be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.

The truth is, is that everyone’s hydration requirements are different and are based on age, gender, body shape and size, general health and wellness, as well as how active we are.

The one thing that can’t be disputed is the importance of hydration.
Water helps your body:

  • Keep a normal temperature.
  • Lubricate and cushion joints.
  • Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.
  • Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

Kim Hofmann, a registered dietician says that on average, we should have 2 glasses of water plus 1 glass extra for every 10kg of body weight and that you will know you are drinking enough water when you start getting thirsty during the day.

Start your morning with water
We tend to haul ourselves over to the kettle first thing in the morning for a caffeine jolt. Gotta do what you gotta do right? But try having a glass of water while your coffee or tea is brewing.

Dehydration impacts performance
Drinking enough water helps the body perform at its best. It prevents lethargy, brain fog, headaches, and unnecessary snacking. The heart also doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around the body, which means the nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream reach the muscles much faster (especially important during exercise).

If you are training for an endurance event like the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon or Virgin Active 947 Ride Joburg, you’ll be especially interested to know that dehydration can negatively impact performance by up to 25%. Dehydration may also make you feel lightheaded, lethargic and is one of the main reasons for cramping.

Drinking during exercise
Drink about 500ml of water 1-2 hours before a workout; a glass of water 15 minutes before you start; and a glass of water for every 15 minutes of your workout. You may need to drink even more water if you’re sweating a lot and particularly if you’re exercising outdoors in the sunshine, and if it’s a hot and humid day.

If you’re only working out for about an hour, you’ll get everything your body needs from water without the need for hydration with energy, such as sports drinks, juices or rehydrates.

What to drink besides water
If we are not careful, extra calories can easily come in through the sweetened cold drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and powdered drinks we consume.

Water is the best option, but if you find the taste of water too plain, flavour it with herbs, fruit pieces, or fruit ice cubes that contain blueberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries or grapes.

If you must drink a juice: choose fruit juices that contain pulp, rather than those that are made of concentrate or have had the pulp removed, and similarly add some of the fruit and vegetable pulp back into your juice if you make them at home, as this a source of fibre, which helps slow down the release of the sugar into the blood.

Replace some high-sugar drinks with homemade iced tea and herbal teas – caffeine-free teas don’t act as diuretics and may replace your water intake.