Spending a few hours at the gym, or time at the spa may leave you feeling invigorated and pampered, but it can also leave you feeling dehydrated and lacklustre. This is why in reputable gyms, spas and saunas they will have a water dispenser for use by guests and gym-goers – and not just one dispenser either. Knowing how important, maintaining hydration is for the human body, many gyms and clubs will have several water dispensers or coolers dotted about. The importance of water is not to be underestimated but when you put extra stress on your body, such as when you exercise or indulge in the relaxing, hot sphere of the sauna, you need to maintain your hydration levels. Pre-workout or spa routine The best to stay is hydrated to keep your levels topped up at all times, but when you know, you are about to exercise in a way that will make you sweat, or spend time alternating between sauna, steam room and the pool, upping your fluid intake beforehand will work wonders. However, don’t overdo it. Monitor your urine colour. Anything lighter than straw colour may mean you have drunk too much, so ease off a touch. You want your urine to be straw coloured at all times as this means you are well-hydrated. As you become more dehydrated, your urine will go a darker colour. During exercise As soon as you exercise, or heat your body with a session in the sauna, you are placing your system under more stress than it normally would be. And yet, while under stress we want and need its key functions to continue. In other words, you need your brain to be plump and working well; you need your kidneys to be filtering toxins out of your system and so on. The most accurate way of assessing your hydration needs during a workout in the gym is to weigh yourself before working out, and then weighing yourself at the end. The difference will be the amount of fluid you have lost. For each pound of weight, you have dropped during your workout; you need to drink an additional 16 fluid ounces of water. You mayhave drunk 8oz while exercising over and hour and lost one pound. You will need to drink 16oz of water or, to make hitting the water dispenser easier, this equates to 16 mouthfuls of water. Post workout But your hydration levels will still be falling after you have finished exercising so as you bid the gym farewell, it may be a wise move to fill you water bottle – wiping your bottle top and water dispenser tap before filling to minimise cross-contamination. There are two ways of doing this:
- Quench your thirst – you may be thirsty after working out, and this is a perfectly reasonable sign of having worked out and done so to good effect. However, you need to drink, and the best thing is filtered water from a water dispenser. Many dispensers have a chilled tap which you may find gives you an unpleasant headache at this point. Known as an ice cream headache, it will be too cold against your hot, sweaty body and not be a healthy drink. Opt for the ambient tap instead.
- Urine colour – don’t drink too much, too quickly. As well as making you feel bilious, it will also mean your body is awash with water. Keep an eye on your urine colour; remember it should be straw yellow (a light yellow) and not colourless. Too dark means drink a bit more.
The water dispenser is there to top up your hydration levels so don’t arrive at the gym and think that a mouthful or two from the water dispenser is going to do the trick.
However, too much water – hyperhydration – is just as bad. Knowing you are nearing over-doing it is important. Many experts say when you can hear water sloshing in your stomach, you should ease off on the fluids for a short time. It can also make you feel unwell and if you keep on drinking, can lead to fainting/ becoming unconscious, etc.
When you exercise, you need to feel the thirst maintain the optimal performance from drinking the right amount of water. This is why race organisers place their water stations where they do and why prime athletes only drink from these, and not run with water bottles themselves.