The road to achieving your fitness goals is loaded with challenges. No matter what shape you start your journey in, it takes discipline, focus, and consistency to start seeing results. As you start to see and feel progress, it can be easy to push yourself even more, sometimes too far.

If you do get caught up in your run, your rowing, or any other exercise. you may forget an important element to your regimen: hydration. Even though it might be in your diet, drinking water is every bit as important during your workout as it is during your meals. In this article, we’ll discuss a few key reasons why hydration is crucial for reaching your fitness goals and your overall bodily health.

Our Bodies are Mostly Water

Fun fact: water makes up to 60% of our adult bodies. In order to keep your body hydrated, it’s important to replenish the water your body uses during the day. Before you start hydrating, though, it’s important to keep in mind the pH level of the water you drink. While it isn’t a quality that falls under their regulations, the EPA does recommend drinking water should have a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5. Not sure what pH levels your municipal tap water falls under? Compare some of the best bottled waters to drink to ensure healthy acid and alkaline levels as you drink your recommended intake.

Your body needs between 9 cups (for women) and 13 cups (for men) of water per day. Not all of that comes from drinking fluids. We also get a portion of our daily water intake from the foods that we eat. But what happens when we are burning off those calories and sweating during our workouts?

Sweating Can Decrease Performance

According to Amanda Carlson, trainer and director of performance nutrition for Athletes’ Performance, “Just losing 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25%.” This is a huge deal, especially if you’re focusing your efforts on HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts that may cause you to sweat profusely.

Because of this, it is critical that you have water with you while you exercise. It’s also important to actively take water breaks throughout. Exercising from home? Make sure you have filtered water in your home, whether it is a bottle with a built-in filter or the filter system on your faucet head. Fill up a pitcher with water and place it near your exercise area. You can keep track of your water intake after each glass of water you pour during your refueling breaks.

Water Keeps You Fueled So You Can Keep Going

Keep in mind, taking the time to hydrate frequently does have noticeable effects to your body. It can even improve your mood (and fight off feelings of depression or anxiety) by restoring the balance between your dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain. Giving yourself a quick water break during your workout, your run, or even during the workday will likely keep you going longer than you expected.

Just like those perfectly effective workout songs, that quick drink of water can help you push through with more drive than you thought you had left. Try rewarding yourself with a drink break after a great set of reps. Just make sure you do stick to water as other types of drinks can actually work against you.

Other Beverages Can Dehydrate You

Alcoholic beverages and sodas can actually work against your body and dehydrate you, forcing your body to work harder when you do exercise. Even diet sodas are linked to weight gain, setting you further behind on your hydration and fitness goals. Substituting your high caloric beverages for water or in some cases a sports drink will help you stay hydrated and on track with your goals. Here’s a comparison between the best and worst drinks for hydration.

It’s not just avoiding other beverages that you might struggle with during a workout. Do you need help remembering to take water breaks? Communicate this with your trainer, your workout buddy, or even program reminders in your mobile device. Doing this will help you avoid some of the serious side effects that are associated with dehydration.

Dehydration Can Cause Serious Side Effects

Not taking the necessary steps to refuel your body with the proper amounts of water can cause dehydration. It can lead to a decrease in stamina, headaches, low blood pressure, exhaustion, problems with your urine, or even worse. According to this source, chronic dehydration can even lead to organ problems, like kidney stones.

Taking your physical health seriously is an essential mindset for maintaining your long-term fitness goals. Always discuss your fitness and hydration goals with your physician before beginning any new routine.

We’re constantly told to remember to drink enough water during our day. During our workout sessions it becomes doubly important. Understanding the importance of hydration might help convince you to take the steps needed to drink more water. Remember, the more hydrated you are the better your performance will be.

Looking for more resources to help your fitness goals? Check out these additional tips on positive nutrition habits that will help you feel great!