Recognizing Dehydration in a Workout

Recent studies have shown that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Over one-third of all Americans have a thirst mechanism that is so weak their bodies mistake it for hunger.  As a fitness exercise expert, it is especially important that you keep your clients hydrated throughout their workouts. Your client's level of hydration should not be overlooked when checking health history and completing your initial assessment and exercise prescription.

Still, sometimes a normally well-hydrated client might become acutely dehydrated prior to your workout without your knowledge. Below are a list of signs and symptoms to watch for that might indicate that your client is not properly hydrated:

  • nausea
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness
  • dry skin
  • extreme thirst

If you realize that your client is dehydrated, usually water alone can remedy the problem. However, if the dehydration is apparent after the client is already exerted and is actively sweating, a sports drink might be a better solution. Sports drinks can be beneficial by providing carbohydrates and minerals that your client might be lacking (potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc.). These electrolytes are essential for optimal muscular function. Fitness waters can also provide a solution. These drinks are usually lower in calories and electrolytes than sports drinks, while still providing some flavor.  

Dehydration is a serious problem that should not be over-looked, especially in a fitness environment. Knowing the signs and symptoms is only half of the battle. Assessing your potential client's hydration prior to starting and monitoring it each workout is the best to avoid dehydration. Dehydration adversely affects many bodily functions including muscular performance and metabolism. Keep your client hydrated and help optimize his/her workout and nutrition.

The Outlier:  It should be mentioned that it is possible that your client is experiencing low-blood sugar.  A small meal or snack of about 100 calories is usually recommended about one hour before activity. The best snacks provide carbohydrate, proteins and fats.

For more information about hydration and sports performance - check out our Sports Nutritionist Certification!

Sports Nutritionist Certification

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