Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or fitness guru. I am sharing what I’ve learned through research and experience; you all must use your own judgment in deciding what is best for your and your own health, including checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise or dietary program.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. You’ve all heard it and read it, but do you really understand why? Why is hydration so important?
Your body depends on water for survival. It makes up more than half of your body weight. Your muscles need water to stay strong, your organs need water to do their work, your joints need water in order to move smoothly. Your body is like a giant battery, with electrical impulses flying from your brain to your nerve endings…and water is the conductor. Water is essential for good health.
One of the problems with water is that you lose it just as fast as you drink it. You lose it when you pee, sweat, or even breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is hot, when you exercise, or when you’re sick with vomiting or diarrhea. The water in your body must be replenished on a continual basis, or you get dehydrated.
That battery metaphor? What happens to a battery when it gets old and cracked and the conducting stuff inside drains out? (I know you’ve all seen corroded batteries inside forgotten toys!) Yeah. The battery doesn’t work anymore. Now think about your body as a battery…how well is it going to function without its water conductor? Uh, not at all!! When you get dehydrated, you slow down. You feel sleepy, irritable and get a headache. In its natural, hydrated state, your brain has the consistency of very wet sponge. If you let it dry out, you wont’ be able to think or react quickly. Dehydration = Your batteries are running low!!
You have to keep your body battery charged by staying hydrated. Drink up. At least 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day, more if you’re exercising, even more if it’s hot outside. You can tell if you’re drinking enough if you pee clear or very, very light straw color. If your pee is yellow, your aren’t hydrated enough.
Water is the best option for staying hydrated, and most of your fluid intake should come from water. Skim milk, fruit and veggie juices, and herbal tea can also contribute to your daily fluids. Sports drinks can also provide the water we need with the benefits of electrolytes when exercising intensely in the heat, or when we’re sick. Be sure to read labels on sports drinks carefully as most contain extra calories in the form of sugar and some are high in sodium.
Have trouble remembering to drink water? Here’s how I do it.
- Keep a bottle of water with me during the day. It’s on my desk, between the keyboard and the screen. I have to scoot it over every now and then to see something, and when I touch it, I drink at least 8 ounces.
- Start and end the day with a glass of water.
- Drink a quart* of water an hour before every exercising session and a quart after. And a quart (or two) during, especially if it’s exceptionally hot.
- Drink a glass of water every time I pee. It sets up a sort of never-ending cycle that guarantees my hydration level!