Water is considered to be one of the most important factors to life second only to oxygen. Our bodies are comprised mostly of water, so maintaining your hydration level is essential not only to fitness but to general health and well being.
Water is required for numerous vital functions of the body:
- regulating body temperature
- aiding in food digestion
- metabolizing fat
- removing toxins and acid from the body
- increasing oxygen to the blood
- proper brain function
- lubricating joints
- transporting nutrients to the cells
Before delving deeper, lets define Dehydration first:
Also known as hypohydration, dehydration occurs when the body expels more water than it intakes, resulting in a disruption to the metabolic process. Common signs of dehydration include headaches, cramping, dry mouth/nasal passages, weakness, and dizziness. The issue being once these symptoms occur, your body has already surpassed the mild dehydration phase. When dehydrated, performance suffers, as the body lacks the energy and focus to perform optimally.
The human body often masks mild dehydration. During strenuous activities losing as little as 2% of body weight through sweating, can result in a drop in blood volume, which means the heart has to work harder to circulate blood, leading to even higher levels of dehydration. Exercising dulls the mechanisms of the body that tells you when you are thirsty. A simple approach to combating this is being proactive before, during, and after exercising.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
Due to the variability of each body and their individual responses to stimulus prescribing specific water intake can be tricky. Here are two easy ways to monitor adequate hydration:
- Observing urine color and volume. If your urine is dark and condensed that is general sign of dehydration. With proper hydration your urine should be light in color and watery.
- Weighing yourself before and after exercise. During exercise most weight lost is fluid, so drinking enough liquids are imperative. If you gain weight afterward this most likely means you are drinking more than needed. For every pound lost post workout one should drink 20 oz-25 oz of water to replenish their hydration levels.
Try integrating a few of these methods to help stay hydrated:
- Each morning drink two glasses of water.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content.
- Drink using a straw. People tend to consume more water using a straw.
- Keep water near you when you sleep. Taking a sip if you wake up during the night
- Drink at least one cup before eating. (This helps with hydration and quells hunger).
- Along with keeping a food log (a great idea for general health), log the amount and type of liquids you drink.
Water is essential not just for optimal performance in exercise and sport but imperative for optimal health and well being.