Make Water A Priority

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”  Water has the power to grow a forest, clean the air, and provide crops for an entire village.  Imagine how powerful it is inside your own body.  Water is a solvent for vitamins and minerals, and it transports these throughout your body.  Water assists in muscle contraction.  It makes digestion possible, serves as a shock absorber in everything from bone and muscle and connective tissue to your eyeballs, maintains your body temperature as it eliminates heat, and rids the body of wastes.  So, when you don’t get enough water, everything dries out and nothing functions as well as it should[1].

Water is the worlds first and foremost medicine.
— Slovakian Proverb

Everything in your body functions more optimally when you are properly hydrated.  Which makes sense, because, water is the single largest component of the human body.  Your blood is 90 percent water.  Your brain is 85 percent water, muscle is 72 percent, skin is 71 percent, bone is 30 percent, and fat is 15 percent water.  A study from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, IL, showed that a properly-hydrated person has the capacity to exercise 33 percent longer than someone who is not.  In addition to everything already mentioned, water also plays a vital function in:

  • Protecting vital organs

  • Providing a driving force for nutrient absorption

  • Serving as a medium for all biochemical reactions

  • Maintaining a high blood volume for optimal athletic performance

Drinking plenty of water also helps with weight loss.  It cleanses your tastes buds, neutralizes food cravings, acts as an appetite suppressant, and cleanses the body of waste.  Drinking water also stops your body from retaining water, which automatically helps reduce bloating. 

There is no specific Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for water.  To maintain euhydration, which is the state of normal body water content, water needs should be driven by thirst.  During exercise you should follow a personalized hydration regime, based on activity intensity and duration, personal body mass index (BMI), and environment.    

HYDRATION FOR FITNESS

As little as 2% fluid loss can have a noticeable effect of performance.  A great way to make sure you’re maximizing your time is to make sure you can give 110% during every workout.  You can only do this if you are well hydrated.  In addition, water helps to regulate body temperature.  When you are dehydrated, your skin can’t produce as much sweat and you can become overheated. 

Aim for a 1:1 fluid replacement to fluid loss ratio.  There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation, however, if you are sweating heavily and/or working out in a hot, humid environment be sure to continually drink sips of water throughout your workout. 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the USA Track and Field Association have established a set of guidelines you should be aware of when you are starting a general, moderate-intensity workout program:

  1. Use thirst to determine fluid needs

  2. Aim for a 1:1 ratio of fluid replacement to fluid lost in sweat; there is no hard-and-fast rule because everyone’s needs will vary according to weight and intensity, but a general guideline from the American College of Sports Medicine is 3-6 oz. of water every 20 minutes

  3. After every workout, measure the amount of water you consume and then measure your weight to assess your personal fluid needs. If you are maintaining euhydration your will not gain or lose weight during a workout.

  4. Drink fluids with sodium or snack on sodium-added foods during workouts longer than 2 hours

  5. Hydrate appropriately pre- and post-event:

According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association,

a. 2 hours prior to exercise, drink 17-20 oz. water

b. Following exercise, the athlete should aim to correct any fluid imbalance.  If weight-loss has occurred, water needs to be consumed.  For every pound lost, 16-24 oz. of water should be consumed  

MONITORING WATER INTAKE

I recommend not to wait until you are thirsty.  If you have a headache, sore muscles in your neck and back, and/or eyestrain, you may just need water.  Sip throughout the day to avoid symptoms of dehydration.  Find convenient moments such as:

  • Driving to work/running errands

  • With each meal

  • During a workout

  • First thing in the morning

  • When you brush your teeth

  • Watching TV

In addition, plain water is not your only option.  A variety of drinks contribute to maintaining proper hydration, including:

  • Decaffeinated tea

  • Smoothies made with water

  • Protein shakes made with water

  • Water flavored with lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, etc.

WATER FIRST

If you want to keep your body healthy make water consumption a priority.  Replace soda, juice, and sports drinks with H2O to reduce calories and keep your body running efficiently. 

You should swap water for soda immediately to keep your bones healthy.   The phosphoric acid in soda interferes with the absorption of calcium into bones.  The calcium you are consuming is actually being blocked by the ingredients in soda. 

Sports drinks can be useful when you are working out for over 2 hours, but, if your workouts are typically 1 hour and/or of moderate-intensity, drinking water is all you need to stay properly hydrated.

So, reach for your gallon of water when you feel thirsty and be sure to take a reusable water bottle everywhere you go.  Make drinking water a priority today!

 

[1] DiNublie, N. A. (2005).  Framework: your 7-step program for healthy muscles, bones, and joints.  Emmaus, PA: Rodale