Water is one of the most important ingredients to the survival of the human body. For starters, over 60% of our bodies are made up of water – brains 70%, lungs 90%, and lean muscle tissue 75%. Blood, which carries oxygen and disease fighting cells and diffuses waste, is almost 83% water. We need to replace close to 2.4 liters of water daily, either by drinking it or extracting it from the food we eat.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
The general rule regarding daily water intake is eight glasses of water a day. Some suggest calculating a more specific amount by taking your weight and dividing by 2, leaving you with the ounces of water you should drink a day. Regardless of the average recommendation, however, we need to take into account a multitude of circumstannces when assessing our water needs (e.g. weight, age, lifestyle, health, etc). Sports medicine doctors may look at things differently than family medicine doctors when it comes to their reasons for ‘prescribing’ the proper water intake for you.
If you’re thinking of stepping up, or down, the amount of water you drink, remember to consider factors such as, your age, diet, and activity level – even the time of year and where you live makes a difference. In hot climates and high altitudes, the body has to work harder to stay cool and deal with rapid breathing. Both of these things, use up fluids up faster.
When making any changes in your diet and/or health care regime, consulting your health care provider is always a good idea. A history involving heart or kidney disease can decrease the amount of water excreted, making it important to your health to decrease the amount of water you drink. Medications can also affect the amount of water you should drink, or, when you drink it. Women pregnant or breast-feeding need 2-3 liters a day to stay hydrated for the mental and physical health of themselves and their babies.
Water and Exercise
Exercise makes your body work harder to heat up the muscles, keep them warm, and cool down the body. Even short bouts of it can make you sweat, thus loosing fluid. So, there is a demand for extra fluids to help your body stay hydrated when engaging in exercise. Water also helps to keep joints moving smoothly, thus helping to prevent injury and aid in recovery time in between training sessions. During physical activity, remember, you need to replenish more often, and you don’t always need to be thirsty to need the drink.
Dangerous of Dehydration
No matter what we do, the importance of water remains the same. Without this vital substance, stagnation and congestion of all sorts can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, a slow digestive process (constipation), skin problems, and weight gain. Additionally, when we get dehydrated, our body temperature has trouble remaining stable, we have a slower reflex response, and our thinking can become ‘fuzzy’ from lack of concentration. This can cause poor decision-making in everything we do from our exercise routine, to our daily work and family chores.
So You’re Not a Water Drinker?
Some think you actually have to stand there and start your day with a huge glass of water every morning. “There, that’s one!” But you don’t have to plug your nose and down all that water at once. Like any other new regime you add to your life, working it slowly into your daily routine is the route to go. Fill up a water bottle. When you’re at home or work, keep it in the area you spend most of your time in and continuously drink from it. When it’s empty, fill it up. Funny thing about water, it seems the more you drink, the more you want to drink.
The Bottom Line
It may take you 2 weeks to be able to finish that ‘1 bottle in a day.’ That’s okay, no pressure. You’re still drinking more than you did before and slowly conditioning your body to having, and wanting, that extra water. You’ll see, it’ll work.