The Importance of Hydration | Benefits of Drinking Water

Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways you can keep your body working smoothly and keep yourself healthy. It’s easy to underestimate the impact it has on your health, wellness, and fitness goals. Drinking the right amount of water for you can speed up your metabolism, prevent over-eating, and help you live your best and healthiest life. Water is crucial to the proper functioning of your entire body from your muscles and tissues to your organs and cells. When you think of all the uses for water that the body has, this is easy to understand. Water delivers nutrients to cells, helps to regulate body temperature, lubricates joints, removes waste, prevents infections and keeps organs and all of our systems functioning. Depending on our age, gender, and body composition, our bodies are composed of about 45% to 75% water.

In addition to our overall health, our mood, sleep, and cognition are also impacted by our level of hydration. Dehydration happens when you lose more fluids than you consume. It can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.

How much water should you drink? We know that staying hydrated is extremely important and is essential to taking care of ourselves. But how much should you drink? Experts have varying opinions on this. They often say to drink eight, 8 oz. glasses per day, which equals 2 liters or a half gallon, but this might not be enough. If you’d like to get technical, you can calculate the amount of water you should consume daily by taking your weight and multiplying it by 2/3 (or 67%). For example, say you weigh 175 lbs. Multiply that by .67 and the resulting answer is the number of ounces you should drink per day.

175 lbs. x .67 = 117 oz

In this case you should be drinking at least 117 ounces per day. Additionally, you should take your exercise level into account. For every 30 minutes of exercise you do each day, add 12 ounces of water to your daily intake. So if you work out for 45 minutes one day, add 18 extra ounces to your daily allotment for that day.

How can you tell if you’re well-hydrated? As they say, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so it’s best to be proactive about your water intake. But don’t worry - it’s easy to tell if you need to drink more. If you’re urinating every few hours and your urine is a pale yellow, you’re right where you should be. If you go longer than that or your urine is a dark yellow, you need to increase your water intake.

Though drinking straight water is the best way to stay hydrated, and staying away from sugary drinks and excess caffeine is ideal, water it isn’t the only way. Fluids like herbal tea, fruit juices, sports drinks, soup broth and even coffee add to your level of hydration. Water taken in from eating fresh fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and oranges helps too.

Having trouble staying hydrated? Here are some tips and tricks to help you:

· Carry a water bottle around with you throughout your day. Choose a bottle that makes drinking as simple as possible like the ones with flip straws that don’t require you to unscrew a cap every time you want a sip.

· Drink a glass of water before every meal.

· If you have trouble remembering to drink water, create a simple schedule for yourself. Set a timer or use an app on your phone or take a drink every hour on the hour.

· When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water. Our bodies sometimes confuse hunger with thirst. Drinking water can help you feel full but will not satisfy true hunger.

· Drink water when you first wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

· If plain water isn’t your thing, or you’re tired of it, add strawberries, cucumber, lemon or mint to it to add some flavor. You can also buy an infuser water bottle.

· Always make sure to drink when you’re active and exercising to ensure you’re replacing the fluids you’re losing through sweat.

Lastly, though you know that drinking enough water is important, don’t sweat it! Fueling up with fluids should be a simple, reflexive part of your day. Consciously work to make this a regular habit so it will just be another part of your everyday healthy life.

*To help keep track of your water intake try using myfitnesspal