The Role of Water in Exercise: How to Hydrate Properly for Improved Performance

During sports activities, individuals actively sweat and lose fluids from their body. Failing to replenish these fluids can result in a decrease in work capacity, endurance, cognitive functions, and can even lead to injuries. Thus, it is crucial to drink water during exercise. The method of doing so, however, depends on factors such as the type, intensity, and duration of the activity, as well as the temperature of the air.

Why you need to drink water during exercise?

Water plays an integral role in all metabolic processes within the body, and it directly influences the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. During physical activity, the heart rate accelerates, and the heart works harder to supply oxygen and nutrients to the muscles while removing breakdown products. The balance of fluids in the body plays a crucial role in determining the ease of blood flow.

For instance, consider drinking water through a straw and then attempting to drink a smoothie or jelly. The effort required by the body to maintain blood flow is roughly the same as when the body lacks water. Training under these conditions can have adverse effects on your health and increase the risk of a heart attack. Conversely, when the body has adequate fluid intake, the heart works more efficiently.

How much water should you drink

The quantity of water necessary during exercise is directly proportional to the amount of sweat produced, which is an individualized parameter. However, a practical method to determine fluid loss is by weighing oneself without clothes before and immediately after the workout. The difference in weight is the amount of fluid lost due to sweating.

To obtain more precise and representative data, measurements should be taken multiple times. Nevertheless, the information collected will only be valid for that specific type of exercise and identical conditions. If the workout is conducted in temperatures above +30°C, indicators can increase by 10-20% per hour. In this case, consuming more fluid than during regular activity is necessary.

How often should you drink?

There are two primary methods for drinking water during exercise: drinking according to a schedule or drinking when you feel thirsty.

The second approach is more fitting for experienced athletes who have a better understanding of their body’s needs. The more universal method involves taking a few sips at regular intervals.

However, it is crucial to avoid drinking a substantial amount of liquid at once, even if you are exceedingly thirsty. The issue is that the intestines cannot quickly absorb a large volume of water, which may lead to feelings of heaviness and nausea. These sensations can negatively impact workout productivity.

What to drink during workouts

Room temperature still water is the most versatile and practical option for staying hydrated during exercise.

However, for workouts that exceed an hour or when sweating is increased, such as in hot conditions, it is advisable to supplement water intake with isotonic drinks. These drinks aid in restoring the body’s balance of minerals, such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, and others that are lost during physical exertion.

Isotonic drinks are also referred to as electrolytes due to their ability to conduct electrical charges and deliver nutrients to the muscles. A deficiency of electrolytes in the body can impact performance and cause cramping, among other issues.

Isotonic drinks are obtainable in powder and soluble tablet form, and the proportions for making the drink are typically stated on the package and dependent on the composition.

When consuming isotonic drinks, it is necessary to alternate between them and regular water during exercise. Failing to do so may lead to consuming more fluid than necessary due to their enjoyable taste, which may cause intestinal discomfort. Consuming excessive amounts of isotonic drinks may also increase blood sugar levels.

As an alternative, sports drinks that can be found in supermarkets can be used. However, it is important to keep in mind that they are not as effective as specialized isotonic drinks intended for athletes.


To maintain optimal performance during physical activity, it is necessary to stay hydrated as the body loses fluids through sweating. Dehydration can lead to decreased performance, endurance, and increase the risk of injuries and illnesses.

Room temperature still water is the best option for staying hydrated during exercise, and it is recommended to take a few sips at regular intervals or between sets when working out in the gym.

For intense workouts or during hot weather conditions, it is advisable to drink more fluid and supplement water intake with isotonic drinks that contain minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium.