It’s no surprise that being well-hydrated is essential for optimal health; after all, our bodies are made up of roughly 66% of the stuff, so it makes sense that all our systems need it in order to function. In addition, you need to stay even more hydrated when exercising, as extra time spent sweating requires you to re-hydrate your body even more. But even if you know you “should” drink water and have memorized that “drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day” rule, how often do you actually meet that quota? If you find it hard to get your recommended amount of H20 every day, here are 7 amazing things water does for your body.
1) Cools You Off
When we exercise, our core body temperature raises, and we start to sweat to help regulate our body temperature. In the heat and high humidity, we sweat even more. However, if we are dehydrated due to lack of water, our core body temperature stays elevated, and we can’t cool off. You may experience side effects like dizziness, exhaustion and even heat stroke. So stay cool and stay hydrated!
2) Helps Your Endurance When Exercising
Studies have shown that exercisers who drink fluid may go 33 percent longer than exercisers who don’t drink anything. Many people can lose a quart or more of sweat per hour; even more reason to stay hydrated while you sweat so you can keep going longer.
3) Keeps You Regular
Your digestive tract needs H20 to function normally, so when you’re having stomach issues, reach for water above all else. Whether you’re constipated or having diarrhea, your body needs water to not only stay hydrated but get your digestive system back on track.
4) Aids Weight Loss
Studies have shown that drinking water before a meal can help you lose weight by making you feel fuller than you would otherwise. oftentimes we mistake thirst for hunger, so if you stay properly hydrated (and are sure to drink a glass of water before each meal) chances are you’ll eat less than you would otherwise.
5) Keeps Headaches At Bay
Dehydration is a known migraine trigger. To lessen your chances of getting headaches throughout the day, be sure to keep hydrated! And if you’ve already been hit with a dehydration-related headache, act fast: drink two to four glasses of water within the hour to experience relief.
6) Energizes You
Feeling sluggish? That’s one of the first signs of dehydration. Pour yourself a tall glass of water and as you drink it, you may just feel yourself getting a second wind. Studies show that even slight dehydration can make you feel more fatigued.
7) Keeps You Happy
Call it the new “hangry,” but with thirst: studies show that dehydration can actually make us crabby. And it makes sense–our bodies are made up of water, and everything from our brain to our digestive system needs the stuff to function properly. Even mild dehydration can negatively affect your mood!
How To Get Those 8 Glasses A Day
If you still find it tricky to drink enough water, add a slice of lemon or lime to your water bottle, which is what I do. Lemons and limes seem acidic but actually help to alkaline your body and help keep your pH balance in check, and they taste refreshing and can make drinking water more fun.
If you like to occasionally have even more flavor, go for lightly flavored water but be careful of the calories and watch out for either too much sugar or fake sugars. My advice, look for naturally sweetened versions. One of my favorites is HINT . HINT is basically water with a splash of natural flavoring. I love the blackberry, watermelon, and crisp apple the most!
If you plan to exercise for longer than 60 minutes at a high intensity and/or in extreme conditions, you should consider using a sports drink during and after your workout to replenish your body with the fluid, nutrients and electrolytes it needs. Remember, when you sweat, you lose more than just water. You also lose electrolytes, especially sodium, the most critical electrolyte lost in sweat, which is also a key component of fluid balance and the hydration process. Sports drinks are made for when you are “hot and sweaty” and are scientifically formulated mixtures of carbohydrates and electrolytes to help your body perform during and recover from strenuous long workouts. The key point here is to drink sports drinks only in these situations. In other words, you don’t need them with your hamburger at a fast food restaurant, if you know what I mean.
My favorite sports drinks are from Aspire Beverages. Basically, they are a company that decided to take out all of the chemicals and artificial colors found in the well-known sports drinks and create a clear drink that still delivers electrolytes and tastes great. It’s all of the good and none of the bad. No fake stuff and during a big workout, it’s my go-to drink. I love the lemon-lime flavor, but all three flavors all refreshing.
Buyer beware of energy drinks. They are very different than a sports drink. With “sexy” names such as Red Bull, Rockstar, Rage, Monster and Full Throttle, most are loaded with an overdose of caffeine, sugar and other high tech ingredients that haven’t been proven to add value to your performance. Although caffeine in moderate doses has been labeled a safe stimulant, the key words are moderate doses. The high doses of caffeine in energy drinks can actually be dehydrating and counterproductive to your performance. I don’t have a favorite, because I don’t advocate these drinks for anyone. And certainly bar-goers who slug back a Red Bull and vodka are asking for trouble. There is an increasing amount of talk on how this concoction is more harmful than we think both physically and mentally. (Had to add this as a mom of young adults, I do not like hearing about the popularity of these drinks!)
Bottom line: There is science behind fluid replacement during exercise. At this time of year when we are getting outside more often and the heat and humidity can be high, be smart about your body’s hydration during workouts and outdoor activities.