What you put into your body is just as important as how you move it. Sport trainers and dieticians stress the virtues of drinking enough water, especially if you exercise. But what is ‘enough’? And why do we need it?
Water is the most significant substance in the body, which needs water to function for everything it does. Water accounts for 60 to 65 per cent of total body weight. Muscle and tissue is 70 per cent water, while the river of life – your blood – is 90 per cent water.
Water carries oxygen and nutrients, while flushing out toxins and waste. It lubricates joints, and regulates body temperature to keep organs from ‘overheating’. It aids in digestion and metabolism, the process that converts food into fuel.
Drinking enough water every day prevents dehydration, which saps energy and makes you tired. A well-hydrated body can emanate a ‘healthy glow’ while helping make your hair shiny and eyes brighter. Since water has no calories and is an appetite suppressant, it can aid weight loss.
How much water we need daily depends on factors like age, what you eat, level of activity, the weather, and your health. A general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. This means a person who weighs 200 pounds should drink 100 ounces of water each day.
A quick way to check if you’re getting enough water is to monitor the colour of your urine. If you urinate often and the colour is pale yellow or nearly colourless, you are getting enough. If the urine is dark yellow with a strong odor, and you go less than four times per day, your body likely needs more.
If you exercise, you need to drink even more than usual to make up for the loss of water through sweating and increased muscular and cardiovascular functioning. Adequate fluid intake for athletes is essential for comfort, performance and safety.
Avoid dehydration, and potential cramping, dizziness and fatigue, by consuming 15 to 20 ounces two to three hours before exercise. Take small sips during the session to avoid becoming thirsty. Afterwards, consume another 15 to 20 ounces to replenish.
Here are a few tips to help increase your daily intake of water.
Form a routine: Drink a glass when you wake up, have one with each meal, and one in between each meal. Get into the habit of having water at regular times each day.
Keep it bottled up: Fill a plastic bottle and carry it with you. Have it available in your car and beside you at work. When it’s empty, fill it up again. Sip from it all day and keep yourself from getting thirsty.
Remind yourself: Set your watch to beep every hour, or set periodic computer reminders to remind you to drink. Track each glass and make sure you’ve met your daily quota before bed.
Make it flavourful: Squeeze fresh lemon or lime into your water, add chopped ginger, or dash of fruit juice. Put mint leaves, cucumber slices or melon cubes into a pitcher and let it sit in the fridge overnight for a delicious dose the next day.
Ask for it: When dining in restaurants, always ask for water. Make a point of drinking the water first before enjoying your coffee, soda, or glass of wine.
Appreciate it: Each time you take a sip, think about all the good things it does for you. Become aware of how it makes you feel, and appreciate the life it allows you to live. Recognize water as being as important to your body as eating, sleeping, and even breathing. Because it is.