Ask the Expert: Hydration Guidelines for Athletes

Ask the Expert: Hydration Guidelines for Athletes

As the weather gets nicer, we all want to get outside. Whether you’re heading out for a short bike ride or day hike or an intense exercise routine, don’t leave home without your water.

What are the Hydration Guidelines for Athletes?

Since we’re all different shapes and sizes, our water needs will vary.  The USDA suggests athletes drink 7-12 ounces 15-30 minutes before starting a workout and 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during the workout.  They stress drinking early into the workout to avoid performance declines from body fluid imbalance. 

Our expert, Dr. Joshua Thurman, explains why:

“Staying hydrated is very important for athletes, particularly those who play or exercise outside in the sun. As you lose water and electrolytes in sweat, your sense of thirst tells you to replace the lost water. Having a bottle of water on hand makes it easy to replace the water as you are losing it, and keeping the body from becoming too dehydrated.”

Child Athletes Need Hydration Too

Make sure your kids don’t forget to drink during their sporting events to ensure they maintain energy during all the fun and excitement. 

Dr. Josh: “You do lose some electrolytes in sweat too, which is why it tastes salty. For endurance athletes or those exercising on hot days it is important to also replace the electrolytes that are lost. This can be accomplished with a snack or with a sport drink.”

Weekend warriors and athletes of all types: want to know more? Check out this short video from the Mayo Clinic to see how to plan your before, during, and after workout hydration. 

Get out, workout, and stay safe!


Dr. Joshua Thurman, MD is a board-certified nephrologist and Professor of Medicine specializing in renal medical diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He has been in practice for more than 22 years.

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