Hydration: The Key to Exercise Success

Quench your thirst safely this summer and avoid dehydration

By Denise Mann
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD

As a seasoned marathon runner, 36-year-old Jeri Salazar has her hydration needs down to a science. And well she should. In addition to being an executive at Disney, this Irvine, Calif., resident is also the Team in Training Marathon Coach for South Orange County and often preaches what she practices to a group of novice runners.

"I drink 64 ounces of water each and every day so I'm always in a well-hydrated state," she tells WebMD. In two days before the recent Boston Marathon, she included a sports drink replete with electrolytes as part of her daily fluid diet. "I figured that getting the extra sodium and potassium in my system couldn't hurt, especially considering what a "salty" sweater I am," she says.

Turns out, that was a good call as at this year's Boston marathon. An unusually large number of runners were treated for dehydration because the temperature reached 72 degrees. Fortunately, Salazar was not one of them.

But alas, dehydation is not the only problem that athletes may acquire. Fluid overload, called hyponatremia, is also surprisingly common. That's why it's crucial for athletes to strike the proper balance when it comes to hydration. Whether you're a marathon runner like Salazar or a weekend warrior, knowing precisely how much fluid to consume before, during, and after workouts -- especially in the heat of the summer -- can help stave off both conditions.