Does Your Workout Make You Pee More? A Urologist Weighs In

Photo: Stocksy/ Irina Efremova
Exercise impacts your body in such interesting ways: It can improve your mood, increase blood flow, improve circulation, reduce pain, and even influence how your bladder works. But if you've ever noticed that you need to use the bathroom right after a HIIT class, you might be wondering about how your workout affects your bathroom breaks. It turns out exercising doesn't necessarily make you pee more, but it can impact when you go, according to Karyn Eilber, MD, OBGYN, urologist, and professor of urology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Hydration levels have a considerable impact on your performance both during and after your workout, Dr. Eilber says. Being adequately hydrated can help you move faster and prevent injuries. There isn't a universal rule for hydration, as it depends on factors like age, gender, activity level, and environment. However, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) specifies that men should consume around 16 cups of water a day, or 128 fl oz, and it's recommended that women aim for 12 cups, or 96 fl oz. This is a suggested guideline, though—everything you consume, from water and coffee to fruits and veggies, contributes to your hydration level. That said, your pre- and post-workout peeing habits can give you some hydration insight.

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Here's why it might seem like you're peeing more after a workout

Believe it or not, you're not as likely to feel the urge to pee during a hard workout. This is because your sympathetic nervous system triggers a "fight or flight" response when you work out, says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, CSC, CSE, a board-certified physician assistant specializing in sexual medicine, women's health, and urology. As your heart races, blood is diverted away from your kidneys, the organ that produces urine, which means there's less urine in your bladder. Once you wrap up your workout and cool down, your parasympathetic nervous system (the "rest and digest system") activates, which might explain your sudden urge to pee, Fosnight says.

So peeing after your workout is a green flag, says Dr. Eilber. It might mean you have a good handle on your bladder control and appropriate hydration levels. Let's be clear: You don't have to pee immediately upon hopping off a treadmill or leaving a Pilates class, but within a few hours of working out, your body should tell you it's time to go, she says. If you're not peeing at all, it could signify that you're dehydrated, says Fosnight.

If you don't sweat during your workout and don't pee in a few hours afterward, Fosnight recommends drinking water because you might need fluid. Additionally, sweating is a huge way for your body to lose valuable fluid, so if you leave a workout with drenched clothes, that is a sign you should stop at a drinking fountain or grab a water bottle. Other dehydration signs include feeling slugging, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and a headache, Dr. Eilber.

Generally, you're not likely to feel the urge to go pee when you're sprinting on the treadmill or firing all cylinders in a fitness class. However, it isn't an immediate cause for concern if you do have to pee during your workout. It could simply mean that you'd had a lot to drink that day or consumed a lot of diuretics like coffee or caffeine. Cause for concern arises if there's frequent incontinence during exercise, a feeling of pressure on the vagina, physically noticeable bulging in the pelvic area upon feeling urgency, or blood in the urine, says Dr. Eilber. All of the latter symptoms could point to the bladder, or pelvic floor prolapse would need medical attention as soon as possible. However, she adds, don't worry if you leak a little pee when you work out, especially if you have experienced childbirth or an existing condition makes slight bouts of incontinence a little more likely.

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