Every sport and exercise requires different equipment and apparel. However, one thing all women need is proper hydration -- regardless of the type of exercise. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you drink 20 oz. of water three hours before working out, and 7 to 10 oz. of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Sometimes, it can be difficult remembering to properly hydrate yourself. Knowing the role that hydration plays in your muscles may be just the motivation you need to make this a priority.
Drinking enough fluids before working out improves your general muscular endurance. In fact, your well-hydrated muscles can work more than 30 percent longer compared to when you are dehydrated. Hydration's endurance-boosting power was backed by 12 out of 19 trials conducted on runners by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, as well as by a University of Sherbrooke analysis of five cycling studies. That may be because properly hydrated muscles are better able to cool off through your body's sweating process, and also because reduced body fluid levels reduces your aerobic capacity, which means less oxygen gets delivered to your muscles when they need it most.
Increased Muscle Growth
Your muscles are made up mostly of water. Drinking enough water helps carry nutrients and blood to your muscles while also carrying away the waste matter that's created while you're working out. This can help your muscles respond better to exercise, and leads to better results in the gym. Additionally, since hydration is linked to improved muscle performance and reduced fatigue, you can exercise longer, which in turn increases your general muscle health and growth.
Better Muscle Recovery
When you exercise, your muscle fibers are torn and damaged. It's during the repairing process that your muscles get bigger and stronger. Drinking enough water maximizes how quickly your muscles repair themselves, helping your body metabolize muscle-healing protein while increasing how well your muscles absorb nutrients. All these factors mean that hydration helps your muscles recover faster from your gym session.
Reduced Injury Risks
Dehydrated muscles lose their ability to become tense or to stretch, both of which are critical when you're exercising. Dehydrated muscles that are no longer as flexible as usual are more prone to getting injured while you're in the gym. Not only does drinking enough water help protect your muscles from injuries, but proper hydration also lubricates your joints and protects these critical areas from damage, too.
- American Council on Exercise: Healthy Hydration
- U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine: Hypohydration Effects on Skeletal Muscle Performance and Metabolism
- Bates College: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Enhance Individual Performance with Focused Nutritional Habits
- Physical Therapy Pittsburgh: Dehydration Can Lead to Muscle Injuries
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.