We’ve all heard it many times: be sure to drink plenty of water. But why is water so vital to our daily lives? The answer is simple: 60% of our bodies are composed of water alone. If we don’t continue to fuel ourselves and replenish what we have lost, we may begin to feel unbalanced and weak (full list of signs of dehydration below). Water also helps to maintain a healthy body temperature. Sweat is the body’s natural thermoregulator, and you will begin to perspire while exercising or in high heat. So in order to keep your body cool under these conditions, it is necessary to keep up on your water intake. Water also helps to keep your joints working properly. It acts as a lubricant and can, to an extent, relieve joint pain and stiffness. If you are looking to lose weight, it can be helpful to drink an increased amount of water before and at mealtimes because water, just like anything else, takes up space in your stomach and can lead to the sensation of a full stomach, therefore making you eat less. While this is beneficial, water tends to be digested much quicker than food and can lead to an empty feeling again. To prevent this, be sure to continue to eat enough to count as a healthy amount and fill up with water if you are still finding yourself inclined to overeat.
Signs of dehydration: headache, dizziness, abnormal fatigue, muscle cramps, quick shallow breathing, skin irritation (dryness or itching)
How much water?
Most people are accustomed to the “drink 8 glasses of water a day” rule but like everything, there is no one size fits all approach that should be taken with water drinking. To customize water limits for each person, you can simply divide your weight (in pounds) by 2. The number that you come out with should be the minimum amount of water (in ounces) that you drink per day. If you plan on having an active day, you should aim for drinking your full weight (in ounces) due to water lost through perspiration. It is important to remember, however, that water is not the only thing that is lost through sweating. Your sweat is rich in electrolytes, and if you only replenish the lost water, you can cause a water-electrolyte imbalance. To prevent this, you can drink a sports drink (such as gatorade), milk,and smoothies, or eat vegetables (such as spinach), beans, and nuts. These are all good choices to help yourself have a refill on electrolytes.
Exercising in temperatures as high as 78 to 80 degrees can be extremely harmful to those who are in poor health. This criteria can include people with high blood pressure, individuals of low aerobic fitness, clients who are on specific medications, and exercisers who are overweight. In even higher temperatures, such as 80 to 90 degrees, people with asthma are added to the high-risk category, however, these conditions are dangerous for all people. Coordination and awareness may also seem impaired due to psychomotor degeneration. To cope with these elevated temperatures, exercisers must take a break every 15 minutes within their exercise bout to drink 8 ounces of cold water in order to stay hydrated and cooled down.
Tips for non-water drinkers:
Eat foods that are rich in water.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, soup, dairy products, and yogurt have a large percentage of water in them and can count as a significant portion of your daily water intake. Cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, and grapefruit are a few fruits and vegetables that can boost your hydration quickly and add a little flavor and variety to your normal water source: plain old water. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, and yogurt are also good choices because they can elevate your health in more ways than just hydration due to their high concentration of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
Schedule times throughout the day to drink water.
For people with busy schedules, this can be a sure strategy to get enough water throughout the day. Your water-drinking schedule can revolve around certain times of the day, certain events that you have happening, or anything else that will help you to remember to drink water. This strategy will also hold you accountable as you will now have an obligation to drink water at set times throughout the day.
Drink water while preparing meals.
This strategy goes hand-in-hand with the “water makes you eat less” principle stated above. If you take up some space in your stomach with water, you won’t be as hungry when you finally sit down to eat. There may be a considerable amount of downtime while your meal is in the oven or you’re waiting for your food to boil. Take advantage of this free time to drink some water. The kitchen is, no doubt, elevating in temperature which gives you more of a reason to hydrate.
As you can see, there are countless benefits to drinking an adequate amount of water on the daily, and in doing so, you can discover interests that you never knew you had because of your increase in energy and ability. Taking advantage of these water-drinking tips can also lead you to a well-balanced diet and good habits. Be sure to continue to correct this easy area of your health and enjoy the world around you.