With water making up around 70% of our body, it’s not surprising that staying hydrated is critical for athletic performance and overall health. Proper hydration helps to increase your energy levels, keep your skin young, rinse your body of toxins, and even improve your mood. Unfortunately, despite the care that many people put into their diets, not many of us consume enough liquids to enjoy the full benefits of being well hydrated.
According to research, more than 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, which means that chances are so are you. But don’t worry, this article will help you understand the basics of proper hydration to keep you naturally healthy and stay expertly hydrated.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Seems obvious, right? Well, there’s actually more to it than you think. Most people still follow the outdated recommendation of drinking 8 cups of water every day, but recent research has disproved this idea. According to physicians, an adult man should drink at least 15 cups of water while a woman should drink 11 cups of water per day. But this is just a general rule, as your water intake requirements can vary depending on your age, location, lifestyle, and even the temperature around you.
A commonly repeated idea in the fitness community is that if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. While this is not necessarily true, it is highly recommended that you don’t wait to feel thirsty to re-hydrate. Your body loses fluid continuously throughout the day, so by frequently drinking water, or other liquids like tea, will help you replenish your fluids and stay fully hydrated.
STAY HYDRATED WHEN PERFORMING SEDENTARY ACTIVITIES
Feeling an urge to urinate when you’re in the middle of a good movie can be a nuisance, but it’s actually a sign that you’re doing things right. A lot of people underestimate the importance of staying hydrated while they’re sitting or resting. That’s why even if you’re just working on your desk or picnicking with your family, you still need to drink on a regular basis.
Simply drinking water will do the trick most of the time. The exception is consuming sports drinks if you’re in an unusually hot climate and need to replenish your water and sodium levels. However, you should be careful of not over drinking as this can bring problems of its own.
A simple rule to check if you’re well hydrated is remembering that you should be urinating every 2-3 hours and that the color of your urine should be a pale yellow (or lighter). Any darker than that can be a sign that you’re dehydrated.
KEEPING HYDRATED WHEN EXERCISING
Staying hydrated when exercising is a lot harder than when you’re sedentary. When working out, your body is losing fluids much faster than what your thirst cues can measure, so chances are that you’re always drinking fewer liquids than you should. According to physicians, a better way to keep track of how much liquid you’ve lost is to weigh yourself before and after you’re done exercising. The weight differential will tell you how much sweat you’ve lost and how much water you should be drinking to replenish your body.
When doing an intense workout for more than 60 minutes, such as long distance running, it’s essential to drink something more than water. Prolonged sweating leads to losing electrolytes, potassium, sodium, and other minerals which your body needs to function properly. Switching to sports drinks during long workouts is one of the best ways to stay expertly hydrated and make your post-workout recovery much easier on your body.
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