Tips for Drinking While Fitness Walking

Our body will lose water during walking and can end up dehydrated. But it is also important that you don't drink more than your body needs. Learn how much and what to drink before, during, and after your walking workouts.

Drinking Before a Walk

  • Drink Before You Walk: Prepare for your walk by drinking a tall glass of water (17 ounces or 500 milliliters) two hours before your walk. This will allow time for any extra to pass through your body and be eliminated in your urine before you hit the trail.

  • Limit Caffeine: Avoid caffeinated beverages before your walk. Caffeinated beverages cause you to lose fluid, making you more thirsty as well as making you take inconvenient stops along the way to urinate.

  • Salt Before a Long Walk: Before long walks, have a bit of extra salt with your meal or snack so you will have enough sodium to stay in balance.

  • Plan for More Water: Carry water with you or plan for water stops along the route where you will be able to get a full drink of a cup of water every 20 minutes.

How to Drink During Your Walk

The basic rule of thumb is to drink a cup of water every 20 minutes, or approximately each mile.1

Here are guidelines on what and when to drink during exercise:

  • Water: For walks of two hours or less, plain or flavored water is the best drink.

  • Electrolyte Sports Drinks or Salty Snacks During Long Walks: When your walk is going to be longer than two hours, a sports drink or salty foods can help with water absorption in the body as well as replacement of salt, plus provide carbohydrates for energy.

  • Drink When Thirsty: The old rules of drinking before you were thirsty were tossed out in the early 2000s. International Marathon Medical Directors Association take the official position that walkers and runners should trust their thirst mechanisms and drink when thirsty.

  • Take a Larger Drink: An interesting study found that water and other fluids will be absorbed faster if you drink a cup or more at one time, rather than taking in water as small sips over a long period.3

  • Drinking When Sweating: You are likely to get thirsty more frequently when you are sweating, so be prepared to have more access to fluids when you know you will be sweating.

  • High Altitude and Weather Conditions: You lose even more fluids at high altitudes, in hot conditions, and when the humidity is low, and you may need to drink more than usual. Again, let thirst be your guide and drink as soon as you feel thirsty.4

  • Flavor Your Water: Make your water taste good so you will want to drink more. You can add a squirt of lemon or other flavorings for your water.

Drinking After Your Walk

When you are done exercising, finish with a drink.

  • Replenish: After your walk, end with another tall drink of water

  • Electrolytes: After a long walk, do not overdo on plain water, use sports drinks, and/or salty foods to replenish salts as well.

Signs of Dehydration

If you lose more water than you replace, you may have these symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst

  • Dark yellow urine or no urine

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness, graying out, or fainting

  • Dry skin, eyes, and mouth

Signs of Hyponatremia

If you drink too much fluid (water or sports drink), you can end up diluting your blood sodium. This is a common problem of slower runners and walkers at races.

  • Nausea

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle cramps and spasms

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