Signs of Dehydration While Running, Cycling, Or Doing Any Activity

Updated: Jul 1

If you're an athlete, it's important to be aware of the signs of dehydration while running, cycling, or performing any physical activity. Not staying properly hydrated during exercise can reduce your performance, slow down your training gains, and cause you to have a longer recovery time.

While your body is composed of about 60% water, a dehydrated body can still experience adverse effects on your training and performance. Below are some tips to help you stay properly hydrated during your workout.

Drinking to Thirst Adequately Hydrates

One of the key ingredients of proper hydration is to drink before you feel thirsty. While drinking before you feel thirsty is a great way to avoid excessive dehydration, it's not enough to hydrate your body adequately.

During a workout or long ride, you'll need to rehydrate at least 10-20 minutes before you feel thirsty. A good rule of thumb for drinking before you feel thirsty is to drink every 10-20 miles.

Drinking to Thirst Causes Hyponatremia

A low blood salt concentration, also known as hyponatremia, can result in seizures, coma, and even death. The causes of hyponatremia are usually dilution or excessive retention of fluids in the body.

Although exercise-induced hyponatremia was first identified in the mid-1980s, awareness of this condition has increased since the 2005 publication of a study in the world's top medical journal.

Lack of Electrolytes Causes Cramping

It is not clear what causes cramping while running or cycling. In general, a lack of electrolytes is not the major cause. However, electrolyte deficiency can lead to cramping in certain muscle groups.

In fact, electrolyte deficiency has been associated with several health conditions, including diabetes. Also, dehydration can cause cramping, but it is not the only factor.