Water. Essential for life & without it you’ll not last too long! But were you aware of exactly how beneficial water is to achieving your fitness and health goals and how being dehydrated affects you?
Water makes up a large proportion of your body mass and the water balance in your body is tightly controlled. Our bodies contain 60-70% water. Our blood is mostly water, and our muscles, brain and lungs contain it too. Maintaining optimum levels of hydration boosts energy levels, ensures the joints are lubricated, helps with elimination of toxins & waste, regulates body temperature, aids in digestion and fat burning….the list goes on and on. From a vanity point of view, it helps plump up the skin and plumper skin means less visible wrinkles! Not such a boring drink now is it? Think of it as the magic liquid that makes the difference between feeling lethargic & running below par, and running to full capacity and feeling alive and energetic.
Dehydration, however, is commonplace and it can impair mental and physical performance and puts strain on the cardiovascular system, can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, heat exhaustion & dizziness. Not exactly what you need when trying to push yourself through a workout is it? Most of us are dehydrated without even being aware of it. Spot the symptoms of dehydration & see if any apply to you…
- Fatigue (or feeling drained for ‘no reason’)
- Loss of concentration
- Lower Back Pain
- Dark coloured urine
- Dry mouth & lips
- Muscle cramps
Your body needs at least 8 glasses of water daily, and bear in mind that if you are active, play sport, have a hectic lifestyle or the weather is warmer, then you’ll need to up your fluid intake further. As you can imagine, it’s best to avoid getting into a dehydrated state to begin with, so follow these tips to ensure you stay hydrated and that you get the best out of your fitness regime.
- Have a glass of water the moment you wake up, and sip water throughout the day rather than try & down it all at once.
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times.
- Ensure you eat at least 5 servings of fruit & veg daily, as they also contain water that will help top your levels up by as much as 2 cups of water.
- Drink water 15 mins before and 30-60 mins after a meal rather than drink it with your meal (which dilutes stomach acid). Also, by drinking before eating, you can usually find out whether it is actual hunger you feel, or just your body confusing the signs of dehydration with hunger.
- Drink throughout the day, and don’t wait until you are feeling thirsty (as by then you are already dehydrated).
- Take in about 500ml water 2 hours before exercising, & then drink another 125ml-250mls immediately before your workout.
- Drink small amounts throughout the workout, as you need to replace fluids lost by sweating.
- Aim to drink another 500ml water immediately after training.