Hydration is extremely important when it comes to your health and fitness. The body operates at its highest performance when it is properly hydrated. Most people know they should drink a lot of water but still don't consume an optimal, or even an adequate, amount on a regular basis.
Why is hydration important?
Our organs require water in order to properly function. A large majority of the issues people have on a daily basis can be prevented through hydration. Some of these issues include headaches, fatigue, cramps, a false sense of hunger, irritability and many others.
Supplying your body with an optimal amount of water can help improve several areas of your health and fitness:
- Enhances exercises
- reduce muscle fatigue during and after physical activity
- lower heart rate leads to less stress on the heart
- Increases ability to lose weight
- drinking before meals makes you feel more full and less inclined to confuse hunger and thirst
- Strengthen mental ability
- studies have shown that proper hydration is linked to higher brain performance
- Deter health issues:
- kidney stones
- urinary tract infections
- coronary heart disease
- Improves mood
- studies have connected hydration to elevated emotional states
- Regulates body temperature
- Increases blood volume and circulation
- allows the heart to work less
- Lubricates joints
- hydrated cells are able to provide nutrients and remove waste
- Moisturizes skin
- the skin becomes more elastic when hydrated
- Helps with restful sleep
- less likely to wake up thirsty throughout the night
How much water should I drink?
60oz-80oz (2-3 liters) per day
Reports vary on this point because everyone's body composition is different. The factors that can affect the amount of water your body requires are age, gender, activity level, outside temperatures and several others.
A simple method is to take half your body weight and drink that number of ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 180lbs you should drink 90oz. of water. This is a quick, and admittedly overly simplistic, way to determine the amount of water your should drink. The most important aspect is to learn what your body requires and to be consistent with how much you consume.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- Urine is dark
- Little or no urine
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Lack of tears
Dehydration can severely damage the body in the short term and can have negative effects long after. If you experience any of these be sure to gradually hydrate yourself to prevent any serious consequences.
Are there other ways to hydrate besides water?
Yes, although water is the best option for hydration there are other ways to get a healthy balance of water into your system. Certain fruits and vegetables like watermelon, tomatoes, and celery contain high levels of water.
Tips and Advice:
- Invest in a water bottle that keeps it cold longer. A solid reusable water bottle saves money and is better for the environment than plastic bottles. A Yeti is a good example of a bottle that will keep your water cool throughout the day and will save money in the long term.
- Reduce your caffeine intake, replace with water. Too much caffeine can actually dehydrate the body if it is not balanced with the proper amount of water. Therefore if you drink a cup of coffee you should pair it with a glass of water.
- Drink a glass when you wake up and before you go to sleep. This will help you start your day off strong and help you have more restful sleep.
- Add flavor to your water. Drinking plain water all day can get boring. Use fruit slices (ex. lemons) or a water enhancer like Mio. These are better options than sports drinks or energy drinks because it adds flavor and vitamins without excess sugar.