Everyone knows that hydration is important. We know the figures: at least eight cups a day – or maybe a bit more, according to some sources (like the Mayo Clinic) . But there’s a consistent gap between what we know and how much we actually drink. It begs an obvious question: If we know how much water we should drink, why don’t we do it?
Everybody’s reasons are different, but these are a few likely culprits for our inclination to under-hydrate:
- We live in a society where go-to beverages are fizzy, caffeinated, cheap and – above all – delicious. They satiate without properly hydrating.
- Thirst isn’t nearly as urgent a feeling as hunger; in fact, the body sometimes misdiagnoses thirst for hunger, and we end up filling up on carbs rather fluids.
- We’ve developed a nasty habit of staying far too busy. Who has time to drink eight or more cups of water per day?
- You can be functionally dehydrated and go about life without realizing all the benefits that you are missing out on.
Hydration Plays a Critical Role in Exercise
Here’s a shocker: you can lose up to a full quart of fluid in an hour of exercise! ‘Lose’, as in – used up, gone, out of your system. It doesn’t just escape through your sweat glands, either. Every breath you exhale is loaded with moisture; and all of those elevated internal processes require extra water to be maintained. Fail to hydrate for a routine workout, and you’re setting yourself up for a variety of health problems.
Staying hydrated is every bit as important as maintaining proper nutrients. Odds are good that you take your protein powder on schedule. You owe it to your body to be every bit as vigilant in H2O consumption.
The eight-cups-a-day rule is more of a base to work from. Beyond that, you should drink another two to three per hour of activity. If you want to get down to the technical details, it all works out as a function of your body weight, but the differences are slight enough that you only need to worry about this if you are unusually large- or small-framed.
It’s important to remember that, you are feeling thirsty, then you have probably waited too long. In fact, thirst is a good indicator that you are at least a pint short of where you ought to be. Indicators that it’s even worse than that include dry lips, dark urine and lethargy.
The Dangers of Dehydration
A host of problems can result from dehydration. Some of amount to moderate discomfort; others are much more serious. Here’s a list of some of the dangers of exercising without enough water in your system:
- Dizziness while exercising
- Muscle cramping during or after exercise
- Dangerously low blood pressure
- Elevated heart rate
- Symptoms of shock or confusion
- Fever or even unconsciousness
- Water retention (a natural response to dehydration), leading to potentially severe kidney damage
About the Author:
Tegan O’Connor is a freelance writer from Fitness Market with branches across South East Queensland,a leading fitness company in Brisbane. It offers a wide range of products from protein powder to elliptical trainers.