By Heather Maloney

BIDMC Correspondent


Everyone knows that exercise and proper hydration go hand-in-hand, but what’s the best way to stay hydrated? And how can you tell if you’re dehydrated? Liz Trimarchi, an outpatient registered dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, boils it down.



Q. What can happen to your body if you’re dehydrated?


A. The body needs fluid to function properly. Dehydration can make a person feel fatigued or dizzy, may bring on a headache and may put a strain on the kidneys. Certain populations are more at risk for dehydration, such as young children, the elderly and people with chronic illness. Health risks may be associated with extreme dehydration, especially in these groups of people.


Q. How can you tell if you’re dehydrated?


A. One obvious indicator is the color of your urine: if it’s deep yellow, then you’re most likely dehydrated. Other indicators include dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, fatigue and decrease in urine frequency and output.


Q. What’s the best way to stay hydrated?


A. If you’re doing low to moderate exercise, water is fine. Be sure to drink plenty of water before you exercise, and if you’re going to do an extended workout, keep a water bottle with you to sip from.


Q. What’s better, water or sports drinks?


A. High-level athletes need sports drinks to replenish their electrolytes, but most of us doing moderate day-to-day exercise don’t. Sports drinks with electrolytes and carbs are good for intense athletes or intense workouts, but remember, these drinks add extra calories to your diet.


Q. So how much water do we really need to drink each day?


A. The best thing to do is to carry a water bottle with you and sip throughout the day. The “eight 8oz glasses of water” guideline is a good baseline for most people, but it will differ depending on things like your weight, activity, etc. And you may need to drink more if you’re going to be active in a hot setting or climate.



Q. Why can’t we just drink when we’re thirsty?


A. Thirst is a good reminder to have a drink, but it’s best to prevent feeling extremely thirsty in the first place. A good way to prevent this is by sipping on water throughout the day. When exercising, it is important to be hydrated before beginning and to stay hydrated throughout.




Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.