Staying hydrated is more than simply avoiding thirst. Having an adequate amount of water intake each day not only helps processes inside your body, but also contributes to your overall health and ability to exercise. Read on to learn more about the importance of hydration, how it affects exercise, signs of dehydration, and tips for staying hydrated.
The Importance of Hydration
You’ve probably heard that your body is “mostly water,” but do you know how much water that is? For adults, the water percentage in the body is about 60% for men and 55% for women. Babies have the highest water percentage, at about 78% when they’re born. As most of your body is made of water, you need to maintain a certain level to keep your body alive and well. That can be achieved through staying hydrated and understanding how water helps your body function.
Water is a vital nutrient to every cell in your body, acting as a building material to help cells grow and reproduce. When you eat, the carbohydrates and protein that your body uses as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream, and water assists in moving waste out of your system. Water also helps regulate your body temperature through dissipating heat. If your body becomes too hot, water is lost through sweat, which evaporates from the skin to remove heat from the body. Among many other bodily functions, water helps you form saliva and lubricates your joints.
It’s clear that water plays an important role in the many functions of your body, which is why staying hydrated is so crucial.
How Hydration Affects Exercise
If you’re not hydrated properly, your body can’t perform at the optimal level during your workouts. Drinking enough water affects virtually every aspect of physical performance while also keeping your mind functioning at its best.
Staying hydrated helps regulate your blood pressure during exercise, so your heart doesn’t need to work even harder to maintain its normal blood pressure. Hydration helps improve muscle function, recovery, agility, and helps with mental clarity. Improved blood flow and circulation are other benefits of staying hydrated, which better deliver oxygen and nutrients to working muscles. This is also important in the removal of metabolic byproducts and waste from the muscles, helping them work harder and function better.
Along with hydration helping your internal processes run smoother, a lack of it can likely also be felt when you’re working out or participating in physical activity. It’s difficult to concentrate and stay motivated when you’re thirsty or verging on dehydration.
Signs of Dehydration
It’s possible to get dehydrated with most kinds of physical activity. Even if the weather is cool or if you’re not visibly perspiring, you can still get dehydrated. While you may think it’s only a risk factor when it’s hot outside and you’re sweating a lot, dehydration can also happen when skiing in the winter or when in the water doing water aerobics or swimming. That’s why it’s important to be familiar with the signs of dehydration and ensure you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated and healthy.
Among other possible risks to your body due to lack of water to carry out normal functions, dehydration also contributes to muscle fatigue, increasing the risk for injury while exercising or participating in physical activity.
Familiarize yourself with some common signs of dehydration, which include:
- Flushed or clammy skin
- Premature fatigue
- Feeling of thirst / dry mouth
- Fast breathing and increased pulse
- Increased perception of effort
- Decreased exercise capacity
Later signs as dehydration worsens include increased weakness, labored breathing while exercising, and can lead to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Your daily water intake doesn’t strictly need to come from drinking water or other liquids as food also contains a certain percentage of water, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount of water you’re drinking. Being cognizant of your water intake can help you stay hydrated as well as get the most from your workouts.
- Know how much water you need to drink each day—and hold yourself accountable to actually do it. Betr Health, a partner of EōS Fitness, recommends drinking half your bodyweight in ounces each day, up to a max of 90 ounces.
- If you have a workout buddy or accountability group, determine your individual water intake goals together and check in with others periodically throughout the day to make sure you’re all on track to meet your hydration goals for the day.
- When you’re hungry, drink an 8-ounce glass of water first. Many times, thirst can disguise itself as hunger, and drinking a glass of water will help you determine how hungry you actually are. Drinking water before a meal or snack will often curb your cravings, help you eat less overall for your meal or snack, and help move your meals through the necessary processes in your body.
- Always keep a bottle of water within reach. While it may be second nature to grab your water bottle when heading to the gym, it might be more difficult to remember at other times. If you have errands to run or are going out for a quick trip to the grocery store, make a habit of bringing a water bottle with you. Even if you only take a few sips here and there, it’s still more beneficial to have water available than not having it at all.
- Get a water bottle you love. Rather than a boring and less eco-friendly disposable water bottle, get a reusable one that you’re more likely to want to carry around. There are so many types of refillable water bottles, you’re sure to find one that fits your style and preference, whether it has a straw, a flip top or screw-on top, is a bright color, fits in your cup holder, or any of the multiple other options available.
- Cut down on caffeine, which can act as a diuretic and affect hydration. Diuretics can make you pass more urine, hence losing more fluid from your body and contributing to dehydration faster than a non-caffeinated drink.
- Start your workout well hydrated. Whether you typically sweat a lot or not so much, it’s important to drink enough water before your exercise in order to lower the risk of dehydration as you exert yourself.
If you need more tips on staying hydrated, help setting fitness goals, customized nutrition plans, and support along your wellness journey, join EōS Fitness now to receive a Complimentary Welcome Workout with a Personal Trainer.