Drink to thirst when exercising

Written by Jason Howland of the Mayo Clinic News Network on July 20, 2021

September 1, 2021

Photo for Drink to thirst when exercising

If the Summer Olympics inspired you to start working out, Mayo Clinic health experts say it’s important to stay hydrated when you exercise. And a valuable term to remember is “drink to thirst.”

Reporter Jason Howland explains in this Mayo Clinic Minute.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

“You can become dehydrated if you take in too little. And you can actually cause problems, such as exercise-induced low sodium or hyponatremia, if you take in too much,” says Dr. Sara Filmalter, a Mayo Clinic family physician. “So the general rule of thumb at this point among physicians is to drink to thirst.”

Rather than planning out arbitrary amounts of fluids during your workout, your body is the best indicator when you need hydration. Drink when you’re thirsty.

“I typically recommend that they consume about half their fluids in water and half their fluids in a beverage that contains electrolytes without an enormous amount of sugar,” says Dr. Filmalter.

When you sweat, your body is losing fluid, along with those electrolytes, such as sodium and chloride.

“The purpose of rehydrating is using water or, even better, those electrolyte-containing beverages to pull fluid back into our system and rehydrate so our organs are happy,” says Dr. Filmalter.

So during that next workout, remember to drink to thirst and hydrate your body with sports beverages and good old H20 .


For the safety of its patients, staff, and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Originally posted on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

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