Right Hydration For Right Exercise To Protect Immunity

Written by Rama Manikumar on Tue, 01 August 2023


Exercising is no more a form of physical activity. People have adopted one or the other form of exercise; Pilates, high intensity interval training, resistance and strength training, kick-boxing, Yoga, Tai chi to name a few.

The whole objective is to get your body moving, let your body systems get into action, and in the long run have your immune system functioning well, to help protect you and keep you hale and hearty! However, many of us, become overly enthusiastic about the form of exercise, and tend to forget the basic rule of exercising: hydration. Not many of us the importance of hydration in exercise. Without proper hydration many of our body's systems fall into disarray, and can in fact worsen immune function.

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Why hydration is important?

Over 60% of our body is made of water and even 2% of water loss can have alarming effects on our metabolic function. We need the water to regulate temperature, maintain metabolism, transport nutrients and for proper joint function.

We all know it's a good habit to stay hydrated, but our hydration needs change when we engage in exercise. So, here's a low-down on healthy hydration on those active days.

How Much to Drink Before, During and After Exercise?

There are no hard and fast rules on how much water you should drink while exercising , it depends on individual, but here are some guidelines that can help:

  • Experts suggest that you drink about 480-600ml of water about 2 to 3 hours prior to exercise. This translates to two glasses of water.
  • About half an hour before exercise or during the warm-up phase, it is recommended to drink about one glass of water, around 250ml.
  • The expert guidelines further stipulate that you should drink between 200 to 300 ml of water every 10 to 20, during exercise.

It is recommended to drink a glass of water within half an hour after you finish exercising.

Sports Drinks- Good or bad?

Although the best fluid to hydrate with is water, sports drinks can be a good alternative.

These energy drinks for workouts contain electrolytes and carbohydrates and can be very replenishing after a workout. The main drawback of sports drinks is that some of them may contain large amounts of sugars, and can negate some of the effects of exercise.

In most cases, it is recommended to drink these beverages only if you've performed moderate to high intensity exercise for more than 60 minutes. Sometimes, the flavour of the sports drink can help you drink more fluids, therefore resulting in better hydration. You can dilute the sports drink further, so that you drink more water and consume less calories.

Signs You Aren't Well Hydrated

Dehydration can occur when you lose more water than you consume. When you are not hydrated well enough, you can experience dehydration symptoms such as light-headedness, nausea, muscle cramps, and a hard, fast heartbeat.

In more extreme cases of dehydration, you may experience mental confusion, difficulty in cooling yourself and you may even fall unconscious. So, it is important to know the early signs of dehydration to prevent complications.

Easy Ways to Monitor Your Hydration

One of the simplest ways to monitor your hydration, is by checking your urine. If you are well hydrated, your urine will appear clear or light yellow. However, dark yellow or amber-coloured urine can be a sign of dehydration.

Another way to estimate your hydration needs is by calculating your sweat rate. Note down the ambient temperature. This is done because your sweat rate can vary according to the ambient temperature.

First, it is recommended to empty your bladder and weigh yourself in minimal clothing. Record this weight as 'initial weight'. Then, workout as you usually do. Record the time you spent exercising as 'time'. Now, measure the quantity of liquid that you drank during your session. Record this volume as 'fluid'. You can measure or estimate your urine losses during your exercise session. Record this value as 'urine'.  Next, you should weigh yourself after a session of your usual exercise in the same clothing as before. This should be recorded as your 'final weight'.

After you have all these values, you can calculate your sweat rate as follows:

Sweat rate (L/hr.) = [initial weight (kg) - final weight (kg) + fluid (kg*) - urine (kg)] / time (hrs.)

(*One litre of water or urine is equivalent to one kilogram.)

Physical activity is a central pillar in the maintenance of immunity. However,   hydration needs are altered during physical activity and inadequate fluid intake can have a negative impact on your health. Healthy hydration is absolutely essential for the optimal function of your metabolic processes, including those governing immune function.


Rama Manikumar

Rama is a nutritionist and a lifestyle consultant. Having worked in the health industry for more than 20 years, her expertise in health and well-being brings a fresh and healthy approach to everyday habits- food and lifestyle. She walks the talk and delivers excellent quality nutrition, and helps develop habits that peak health & Well- being. Rama Holds a Batchelorโ€™s degree in Biology; Extended/Specialized degree in Nutrition & Dietetics (Pennsylvania State Univ. USA).

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Current Version

Aug, 01 2023

Written By

Rama Manikumar