The top 5 reasons to stay hydrated when exercising

Have you ever stopped exercising to drink water, as an excuse to catch your breath? Yep, me too. But water is more than an excuse during exercise. It plays an important role in the function of our body.

We all know we should be drinking more but how much, and when?

As a rough rule of thumb we should be drinking approximately 8 glasses of 8 ounces (225ml) of water a day. We are all different though and some of us will need more or less, depending on our body size and how frequently we exercise.

As to when we should be drinking during exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine says you need to aim for 17-20 ounces of water 2 hours before exercising, topping up with 7-10 ounces 30 minutes before we workout. During intense exercise, you should be taking on 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes and 8 ounces within 30 minutes after your workout. Of course these numbers vary depending on the type, intensity and duration of your exercise. The more you sweat and breathe, the more fluid you lose.

So why do we need to hydrate?

Core temperature

If you are not hydrated before exercise your body is unable to regulate its temperature. This means your heart works harder and it can affect your performance. The best thing to do is to drink regularly throughout the day, but also remember to hydrate before your workout.

Energy levels

You also need to top up your hydration during exercise as dehydration can affect your energy levels and therefore your ability to get through your workouts at the intensity you planned to get the results you want. Your muscles need fluid, which helps to carry the required nutrients through your body. Listen to your body. If you are thirsty, drink, as you are probably already a little dehydrated.

Muscle recovery

Water plays a big role in the recovery of your muscles following exercise. Your body’s muscles repair themselves using protein synthesis, but in order to do so quickly, the muscles must be well hydrated.


Dehydration is one of the causes of cramp. If you have ever pointed your feet in a ballet workout you will know how painful this can be. Proper hydration is important to prevent cramping in your muscles while you exercise.


Dehydration can also affect your motor co-ordination, which is the last thing you want if you are doing a ballet workout! Keeping hydrated will help keep you moving in the right direction and help with your balance when you are transferring your weight.

So to sum up and get the most out of your exercise:

  • drink 2 glasses of water 2 hours before your exercise
  • drink another glass half an hour before
  • drink a glass every 10-20 minutes during intense exercise and
  • one more glass half an hour after you finish.

Tips to stay hydrated

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you during the day so you can keep topping up.
  • Have a glass of water (with lemon and ginger) first thing in the morning. Your body has just gone 8 hours (in theory) without any fluid, so you need to hydrate as soon as possible when you wake.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink, follow a schedule.
  • Mix it up so you don’t get bored. If you are not a fan of water, you can drink coconut water, smoothies, juices and herbal teas. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these are diuretics.

If you want to take on the challenge of hydrating every day you can grab some delicious juice and smoothie recipes to enjoy here. I will also send you a Hydration Challenge tracker to help you schedule in your 8 glasses during the day.

Sarah is the founder of Breaking Ballet, a unique fitness course using classical technique. Click here to find out more.


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