Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Exercise and Electrolytes

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

Water is by far the best drink for our bodies. But what about those times when you are are working out vigorously in the gym, playing a basketball game, or going for a long hike? At those times, it may be a good idea to think about the elctrolytes you may need to replenish. When we perspire, we lose electrolytes with that salty sweat. The main electrolytes lost are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Later on, symptoms such as feeling thirsty, muscle cramps, salt craving, and sometimes muscle twitching can occur.

Prevent electrolyte issues

  • Hydrate early and start with water, let your thirst guide you
  • If you are doing a high intensity work-out, it’s hot outside, or you are sweating alot, then look to either have electrolyte drinks or water with a salty snack and/or banana. The main electrolytes in a sports drink is sodium and potassium which you can get in your snack when paired with water.
  • Beware of the sugar and carbohydrate content of sports drinks which have elctrolytes.

Some altertnatives to electrolyte water

  • Coconut water(unsweetened) is an alternative to sports drinks as you can avoid the sugar but it also contains less sodium than sports drinks do
  • Smoothies
  • Milk
  • Orange juice

The big question to drink electrolyte drinks or not should depend on your work-out, how intense your session is, and how much you sweat. On an average, if you have an hour long high intensity work out, you need to have water with a snack(that will replenish electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) or an elctrolyte/sports drink.