It is amazing to think how water, the most common substance on earth, is also the sustainer of all life in the universe. It keeps our blood flowing and makes our brain process millions of ideas. We are water beings, 70% of our body is made of water and it is a known fact that we can live without food for weeks, maybe months but only a few days without water. The body becomes severely stressed without water.
In the summertime, we all enjoy the outdoors physical exercise, whether is running, tennis, biking or walking. So why is being hydrated so important? Our body is constantly loosing water, especially in the heat, when we perspire and when we breathe. If you are breathing heavily you will need water.
Staying hydrated is critical:
- The proper quantity of water will allow your body to function more easily and at a higher performance level
- Hydration will allow your body digest and metabolize nutrients
- Some of the water will transform into sweat which helps your body regulate its temperature
For most outdoor activities, plain old fashioned water is the secret. So, if you aren’t doing very intense physical exercise, like marathons, water is all you need to keep you running. Drink it before, during and after the exercise. Water will boost your energy and you will be able to stay at it longer and stronger.
Proper hydration begins before the physical activity: drink water 2-3 hours before your exercise, and also 15-20 minutes before starting. While exercising, it is recommended to drink water every 10-20 minutes to keep your muscles hydrated. Although in normal everyday activities it is OK to drink water according to your thirst, during physical exercise or heavy outdoor work, don’t wait to be thirsty to drink water, just keep your bottle handy and drink on a schedule.
If you’re already thirsty, then you have already missed many signs of dehydration. By the time you feel thirst you are already dehydrated. Drink several ounces of water (100 ml) right away and then continue to take small sips throughout your exercise. Avoid drinking an entire bottle at once; drinking a little water often will help your body metabolize the fluids more efficiently.
Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water and the fluids it needs to function properly. Dehydration levels can go from mild to severe. Some signs of mild to moderate dehydration are unexpected fatigue and headache, foggy thinking, anger, overheating, and feeling hungry. When you ignore your signals for water, the body will try a signal for food, hoping you will drink along with it. For many of us, hunger is a cry for water.
Signs of severe dehydration are nausea, chills, muscle cramps, increased heart rate. If you or someone else develops severe symptoms get medical assistance immediately.
Some tips to help you during your exercise:
- Pack enough water and include water stops during your exercise.
- Choose water instead of other beverages. Water is easier for the body to digest, its cheaper and it may save you some calories. Avoid beverages that could cause dehydration, including coffee, tea, all soft drinks, energy drinks, and many juices. Hydration comes best from one source: water!
- At the end of your exercise, don’t forget to drink enough water to replace the fluids lost.
- Make your personal hydration plan. The more intense is the exercise, or the heat, the more you will sweat. Even if you don’t sweat a lot, you are body is still losing water and you should take all the necessary steps to ensure a proper hydration. Pay attention to the quantity of water you drink and on how your body reacts to it. You will get to know your body and how much it needs in order to be properly hydrated.
Athletes or not, we should all make hydration a habit. Although we all know water is good for us, drinking it is not a habit that all of us develop.
There are some great reasons to drink water every day:
- water will maintain the balance of our body fluids
- help you lose calories if it substitutes other beverages
- energize your muscle cells (that are 70-75% water)
- make your skin radiant
- act as a natural headache remedy
- increase your energy and relieve fatigue
- save you money on medication
- prevent diseases by boosting your immune system
Make a habit of keeping a bottle of water at hand all the time, set reminders for water pauses if needed. The benefits of water are at your fingertips and you will feel them in your body!
One final caution: Choose clean filtered water. I recommend the AquaSana. Drink from glass rather than plastic. Never drink water from a plastic bottle that has been sitting in the heat as the plastic releases estrogenic toxins into the water. For heavy work or exercise use a tiny pinch of pink Himalayan or Bolivian sea salt for the minerals. You need real salt to keep the body hydration balanced.
Watch for a post coming on the dangers of Sport drinks and commercial hydration drinks.
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