By Chuck Hewett
For a better understanding and a more thorough conversation on this topic, listen to the episode of The Fitness Compass Podcast below:
We have always been told that it is vital to be properly hydrated, but we haven’t all been informed on ‘why’ and/or ‘how’ water is critical to functioning properly and the role it plays in living a healthier life. Continue reading to understand the benefits of staying hydrated, how much fluid you should consume, and how to appropriately rehydrate after exercise.
Did you know…
- Roughly 60% of our body is composed of water!
- In general, water composes 75% of our brain, 75% of our muscles, 83% of our blood, and 22% of our bones!
- As little as a 1-2% change in hydration of your total body weight will negatively affect performance and psychological function!
So why is hydration important?
- Combat fatigue: Water is one of the most important sources of energy for your body.
- Reduces high blood pressure: When fully hydrated, about 90% of blood is water. This helps to keep the blood moving freely through the veins and arteries, helping to prevent high blood pressure along with other cardiovascular complications.
- Halt allergies and asthma: Dehydration creates histamines which are organic nitrous compounds which help regulate our immune response. Too many histamines results in congestion, difficulty breathing, and other allergic reactions.
- Reduces acne, dermatitis, and premature aging of skin: Water helps get rid of toxins that cause irritation, redness, and acne.
- Stops high cholesterol: When the body hasn’t had enough water, it will start to produce more cholesterol so that cells can still function properly.
- Eliminate digestive disorders: Water helps eliminate and reduce incidences of ulcers, bloating, gas, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. Water helps matter move more quickly through the intestinal tract (less constipation).
- Flushes out unwanted bacteria from the bladder and kidneys: People who are well-hydrated experience less frequent bladder or kidney infections since water helps to flush out any unwanted toxins and bodily waste.
- Speed up joint and cartilage repair: Most of the padding in our cartilage is made up of water, so if we don’t have enough of it, our bones will feel stiff and our joints will take a beating. Joint repair after workouts or injuries is expedited by proper hydration.
- Stops gaining unwanted weight: When our cells are depleted of water, they can’t create the energy we need to function, and so they send a signal to the brain to ‘get more goods.’ This means you will eat more. To avoid this, simply stay hydrated and your cells will stay happy and not send ‘fat signals’ to the brain.
- Slow the aging process: Our organs require huge amounts of water to function properly. If we stay dehydrated for long stretches, every cell, organ, and system in the body has to work harder, which means we will age faster.
How much fluid should be consumed?
- During the day? 8 cups a day…wrong!
- 9 cups for females; 13 cups for males…relative though. *Urinate every 2-4 hours…should be a light lemonade color
- Before exercise?
- 2-3 hours before (17-20oz); 10-20 min before (7-10oz)
- During exercise?
- Every 10-20 min (7-10oz)
- Ideally completed within 2 hours, rehydration should contain water to restore hydration status, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to speed rehydration
- Consume 25-50% more than sweat losses to assure optimal hydration 4-6 hours after activity
Tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink 8-12 oz. of water first thing in the morning. Sugar, caffeine and salt will dehydrate you
- Gradually stay hydrated. Continue to sip water/ electrolyte beverages throughout the day…not all at once
- If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated
- Eat foods that contain water (fruits, vegetables, salads, soups etc.)
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The Fitness Compass