The human body is a marvel of resilience and adaptability. Depending on the combination of circumstances, we can live just about anywhere, in just about any climate. We can adapt to different foods, types of shelter, seasonal variations, and levels of stress. We can exist weeks, months or even years with nutrient deficiencies.
But there's one thing, besides a lack of oxygen, that our bodies can't adapt to. It's dehydration.
"The importance of proper hydration cannot be stressed enough," reports the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "Water is vital to life itself; it constitutes approximately 60% of the adult human body by weight...Studies show that a fluid loss of even 2% of body weight will adversely affect circulatory functions and decrease performance levels."
When we stay properly hydrated, our bodies benefit in the following ways:
What happens to our bodies when we're DE-hydrated? We experience decreases in performance, blood pressure and volume, sweat rate, cardiac output and blood flow to the skin. Our heart rate, core temperature, perceived exertion and use of muscle glycogen increases. We retain more water and sodium.
At most clubs where I've worked, we would measure clients' total body water percentage using a bioelectric impedance scale, which also measures body fat. Invariably, the majority of clients were below recommended hydration levels. One trainer would tell her achy clients that due to dehydration, "Your joints are like the Sahara Desert." A lack of water affects every physiologic function, so yes, even joint pain and stiffness can be at least partially attributed to this deficit.
Different tissues in your body contain different amounts of water. Livestrong.com reports that body fat contains approximately 10 percent water, while muscle is approximately 75 percent water. "In general, men should aim for a total body water percentage between 50 and 65 percent, while the ideal range for women is between 45 and 60 percent."
So, how do we determine if we need to drink more water? Just go by our thirst, right? Wrong, according to NASM. "Thirst alone is a poor indicator of how much water is needed. Athletes consistently consume inadequate fluid volume, managing to replace approximately 50% of sweat losses."
Daily water intake recommendations state that sedentary men should consume an average of 3.0 L (approximately 13 cups) and sedentary women should consume an average of 2.2 L (approximately 9 cups) of water. For those trying to lose weight, drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every 25 pounds above ideal weight. Increase water intake before, during and after exercise, and if you're in a hot climate.
When exercising for less than an hour, experts say to stick with water for fluid replacement. For exercise lasting more than 60 minutes, sports drinks are acceptable and help replenish muscle glycogen stores.
Now that you're convinced to consume more water, here are a few of my personal tips to help you make that happen:
Considering that every aspect of your physical health, down to the cellular level, is impacted by hydration, drink up TODAY. This is one area of your health and wellness that you can control!
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.