If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in the water.
– Loren Eisley
Water is critical to our life functions. It transports nutrients to the cells and eliminates waste products from them. It lubricates joints and tissues. It regulates our temperature through the process of sweating. It makes digestion possible. Our body stores water in the cells and in the blood.
So it is not surprising that we need to keep our supply of water high for our life functions to continue smoothly.
Dr. Batmanghelidj of The Water Cure says, “To better determine how much water you need each day, divide your body weight in half. The answer is the approximate number of water ounces you should drink daily. You should drink half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces water (3.13 quarts, 2.98 liters or about 10-12 cups of water a day). If you weigh closer to 100 pounds you will need only about 50 ounces of water or about four 12-ounce glasses daily.”
When we exercise, we cause our body temperature to rise which results in our perspiring and losing water. We also breathe faster in cardio work which eliminates more moisture through our mouth.
Sweat cools the body when it dries from the skin. This depletes our water supply. If you are out in the sun in high humidity your body will sweat more because the sweat doesn’t leave or cool your skin. This is where drinking water comes in. You need to replace the water you are losing. Failure to do so inhibits your bodily functions and can result in muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue or worse, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The dictum “Listen to your body” works well. In the case of exercise and thirst, if you feel thirsty, you are already becoming dehydrated.
You need to drink water regularly particularly during exercise. Dr. B says to start every morning with a glass of water that really gets the blood flowing.
In the case of exercise, you should start out hydrated. If your workout is an hour or less, you don’t need to worry about any of those sports drinks. Water is perfectly capable of replenishing your stores.
Symptoms of dehydration include weight loss, confusion, hot and dry skin.
What is the best indicator of the water level in your system? The color of your urine. It should be pale yellow, clear and in good supply.
Another excellent method of keeping track of your hydration is to weigh yourself before your game, event, etc. and then weigh yourself immediately afterward. The amount of weight you lost is the amount of water you need to replace. If you weigh a pound less, you need to drink about 16 ounces of water to get yourself back even according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
The weight loss/water loss calculator states that with a 1% weight loss, thirst is noticed and performance degrades. With a 2% loss thirst increase and performance worsens. Click the link for readings down to a 7% weight loss.
Once you understand the importance of keeping hydration levels up, you need to realize that you can overhydrate. If you drink more water than you need you dilute the sodium in your blood. The sodium/potassium levels are key electrolytes. Drinking too muchw ater can bring on a condition called hyponatremia.
Those most vulnerable to hyponatremia are marathoners and new runners unaware of hydration principles. Some marathons now require runners to ‘weigh in’ beforehand and keep a record of their body weight. When they finish the race, a runner who weighs more than he did at the start is likely overhydrated. This is considered a medical emergency that sometimes results in death.
Nice weather for our outdoor activities is already in some locales and will be all over in the coming weeks. It is wise to pay attention to such aspects of exercise as hydration as the weather improves and our outdoor activities increase. Avoid the horrible irony of exercising for health reasons and injuring yourself in the process.
If you are a one picture is worth a thousand words person, check out my How Water Benefits our Body – Infographic.