Drinking Water. Boring! But Essential. Discover Why
As summer has arrived don’t forget how important it is to keep hydrated!
Sixty per cent of the human body is water. Fluids are essential for us to stay healthy and to maintain the function of our bodies.
A healthy person needs about 1-1 ½ litres per day (approx. 6-8 glasses). The exact amount depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise or activity intensity and duration. Fluids carry nutrients to our cells, flush bacteria from the bladder and help prevent constipation.
It is easy to get dehydrated particularly in the summer months when it is hotter and people perspire/sweat more. As you get older you may not experience thirst like you did when you were younger. Certain medications are diuretic – this means it removes water from the body by increasing the amount of urine the kidneys produce.
Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease may also mean that someone needs to drink more. Signs that the body may be dehydrated may include dizziness, weakness, low blood pressure, headache, swollen feet/ankles and urine is dark in colour.
Quench that thirst!
Water is the best choice when it comes to meeting the body’s need for fluids. It is calorie free and if it is tap water, doesn’t cost anything. Squash, milk, fruit juices or fruit/herbal teas can also be drunk to top-up fluid levels if plain tap water is not appealing.
The daily recommended amount of fluids should not be drunk all at once but rather throughout the day. Water-rich foods such as salads and fruit can also be eaten.
Keeping hydrated is especially important whilst exercising up to one litre per hour can be lost mainly through sweating and breathing.
Water helps fuel muscles so drinking before during and after exercising will boost energy levels and may help prevent cramp. If one is not well hydrated prior to the exercise session it means the core temperature will rise faster and the heart will have to work harder. This can affect performance and at worst could lead to heat stroke.
Ideally 500 ml or almost a pint of fluid should be drunk about four hours before exercising and then fluid levels should be topped up immediately prior to starting and then continue throughout.
After exercise, a drink will be refreshing and will help muscles recover.
So, drinking enough will help to get the most out of an exercise session and should make it more enjoyable. Alcohol and caffeine should, ideally, be avoided when exercising or the weather is hot as they have a diuretic effect and will cause the body to lose water increasing the risk of dehydration.
I hope that this article has reminded you of the importance of drinking fluids regularly. Enjoy the hot summer days, stay safe but remember to keep hydrated.