How Working Out May Dry You Out

This article was originally written by Dr. Patrick Flanagan

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I am Dr Patrick Flanagan, and this is the latest edition of my Dr Health Secrets newsletter. I have worked out regularly for my entire life and from many years of experience, I have put together a little bit of information on working out and keeping hydrated.
Shake What Your Genetics Gave You
Yes, even I get the Victoria Secret catalog and cringe at the bevy of beauties who are strewn across the pages in napkin-sized underoos. And though I usually opt for walking in nature or doing floor exercises, I sometimes feel that need and desire to go to the gym and run myself into the ground for four straight miles on a treadmill, and like a hamster on one of those little metal wheels, I wonder, “Why is it that I am not going anywhere?”
In this fantasy, I peel myself from the machine, step onto the floor, and find myself lightheaded and somewhat disoriented. I wander around, aimlessly hoping that this strange feeling of confusion will soon pass as I stumble into walls and neighboring weight machines.
Sometimes it passes rather quickly, and other times, I am left in this strange fog for what feels like hours. What is this strange sensation that I, as well as many others, experience after working out? Well, it is mostly dehydration.
If I Only Had Some Water…
Consuming water while working out would seem to be a pretty common practice among the gym going type, and while many people can be seen with water bottles in hand, a large majority of those people don’t actually drink enough water to maintain proper hydration.
According to Peter Bruno, M.D., who is the team physician for the New York Knicks, and Finish Line Physician for the Boston Marathon, constant sweating for over an hour decreases the total amount of blood volume in the body.
On average, a person can lose up to one liter of water per hour on a hot day. This lack of water causes your blood to thicken, making it harder for the blood to circulate, which in turn causes your blood pressure to drop. This then leads to that fabulous feeling of lightheaded confusion that so many of us have come to know and love.
Bruno says, and I quote, “You are losing blood volume, it is almost as if you are bleeding when you get dehydrated because the amount of blood you have available to deliver oxygen decreases.”
Short-term side effects of moderate dehydration include headache, nausea, confusion, disorientation, muscle cramping, and so on and so forth. There are risks in staying within this level of moderate dehydration, such as intense muscle pain, and even muscle tearing.
I think most of us have pulled a groin muscle or two in our day, and I think that all of us can agree that it is not something we hope for on a frequent basis.
What’s an Athlete To Do?
The best solution is for you to check in with yourself prior to, during, and after a workout. Ask yourself how your body feels and how it would feel with more fluids. In general, try to drink a bit more than you think and see how your body reacts. If you are tired, sore, or feeling weak, use that as an indication that you need more water…