So, what’s so special about water?
Without question, water is the most important nutrient we consume! It plays a massive role in every major organ, physiological system and directly impacts exercise performance. Exercising individuals who are dehydrated will fatigue earlier, lose coordination or, even worse, have a terrible injury. A well hydrated muscle is 70-75% water, so why wouldn't you drink water before, during, and after exercise?
So, how can you tell if you are hydrated or dehydrated?
Keeping your urine pale is a good indication of proper hydration. If your urine is darker in color, you’re running on empty and need to increase your fluid intake. Another sign is thirst; if you are thirsty and your mouth is dry you definitely are in need of some fluids.
Potentially, the most dangerous sign of dehydration while exercising is that you have stopped sweating. Sweating is a good thing because it helps us regulate our body temperature and prevents us from overheating. Since sweat is mainly composed of water, a lack of perspiration means that you are dehydrated.
Here are some quick and easy hydration strategies to keep in mind at all times:
- Start each day with a tall glass
- Have plenty of fluids with every meal
- Carry water with you
- Eat foods that have a high water content such as fruits and vegetables
So, how much should you drink?
In 2004, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine released Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for water and other electrolytes. They recommend 16 cups (130 oz.) for men and 12 cups (95 oz.) for women. These numbers reflect your total fluid needs for the day.
Here are some key body functions that water contributes to:
- Protects vital tissue such as your spinal cord and brain
- Lubricates your joints
- Helps digestion
- Plays a key role on bone health and structure
- Eliminates waste products through sweat and urine
- It is also important for the proper functioning of all your senses, specifically sight and hearing
Several glasses of water a day, keeps the doctor away.