The Earth has many wondrous things to experience, but none as beautiful and important as water. It aids in the creation of land structures and has a heavy impact on weather patterns. Sites like waterfalls, lakes, and beaches are abundant on the Earth and cover over 70% of its surface. Similar to this wonderful world we live in, water makes up a huge portion of our bodies and is incredibly important for our organs, muscles, and bodily processes.
How much water should I drink?
Making up to 60% of our overall composition, water is by far the most abundant molecule in our bodies. Maintaining proper hydration levels is key to optimizing our performance during activity and improving our overall well-being. The most frequent question I get asked about hydration is “how much water should I be drinking?”. Generally speaking, we want to have a daily intake of about half our body weight, in fluid ounces. For example, a 160lb individual would be aiming to drink 80 fl oz of water in a 24hr period. This number, however, can change depending on many factors such as activity level, temperature, and humidity.
Water and Performance
Water makes up the majority of the tissues in our body including muscles, skin, and important organs like the brain and lungs. Due to the hugely important role it plays in these tissues, even a slight decrease in our bodily hydration can negatively impact our performance during activity. Studies have shown as little as 1-2% dehydration can greatly affect our performance, with 5% overall dehydration reducing our work capacity by 30%. This is because water makes up 90% of our blood. Decreases in hydration directly lead to decreased cardiac output, slower O2 transportation, and inefficient transportation of electrolytes. Increasing water intake to match performance needs is key!
Water and Wellness
Even if performance isn’t your priority, water is essential to maintaining the structures within our bodies. It keeps our skin tight, helps to flush out waste, and allows us to absorb nutrients more efficiently during digestion. However, outside of solid structures, water also makes up a majority of the fluids in our bodies; this includes synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a thick liquid located between your joints. This fluid acts as a lubricant for our joints and cushions the ends of bones, helping reduce friction when joints are moved. Without proper levels of hydration, we can begin to see issues with movement in the joint. Think of the Tin Man in the “Wizard of Oz”, he can’t walk, move, let alone talk without first oiling his hinges. Staying hydrated will help keep us running like a well-oiled machine and can help decrease joint aches and pains.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Here are a few helpful tips that will help you stay healthy and hydrated!
- Keep a refillable water bottle/thermos near by and filled
You can’t drink water if you don’t have it readily available. You wouldn’t walk into the grocery store without your wallet, so why live your life without water by your side.
- Drink water at “certain times”
Setting up times to drink water can be very helpful when trying to evenly distribute intake. Drink water when you wake up, this will help kick start the metabolism for your day. Drink water when you eat a meal, this will aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients. Drink water before, during, and after a workout. Maintaining hydration levels is essential to activity and overall performance.
- Drink water when you have late night cravings
There’s a difference between stress or boredom cravings and hunger. If you’re craving something salty, your body may be telling you it’s dehydrated, rather than a sign of an empty stomach.