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Myth: Thirst is a good indicator of hydration status.

TRUTH:  By the time you’re thirsty, you’re a little dehydrated and dehydration during exercise can be dangerous!  It can lead to early fatigue, headaches, dizziness, cardiovascular stress, heat illness and poor performance. 

Always begin a workout well hydrated by drinking fluids throughout the day and within an hour of exercising.  You should drink fluids during exercise as well.  If you’re an athlete or more serious about exercise, you should know your sweat rate and drink fluid at regular intervals to maintain hydration.  If you’re exercising recreationally, you should simply drink fluid at regular intervals.  Water is an ideal choice unless you’re engaging in endurance exercise for longer than one hour (in which case, you should choose a sports drink). 

Water is also a great drink to have after exercise, particularly when its accompanied by a small post-workout meal (good choices are high in carbohydrate and moderate in protein, such as fruit and yogurt). 

BOTTOM LINE: Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration status. To get the most out of your workout, pay attention to drinking fluids.  To replace the sodium and potassium lost in sweat, eat a snack afterward!


  1. ADA’s Hydration Fact Sheet:
  2. New York City Health Bulletin:

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2 Comments to "Myth: Thirst is a good indicator of hydration status."

  1. Jen says:

    Great advice!!!

    • Kate Gardner says:

      Thanks Jen! As a trainer I’m sure some of your clients haven’t properly hydrated before their workouts, so if you have any tips, please feel free to add them!

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