Drinking the right amount of water daily can seem like an arduous task. However, ensuring you are adequately hydrated not only benefits your exercise performance, but also your day-to-day functioning, health and mental well-being.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition that can occur when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, exceeds the amount that is taken in. When dehydrated, more water moves out of the individual cells then excreted from the body than the amount that is taken in through drinking.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
· Increased thirst
· Dry mouth
· Dark coloured urine and volume of urine is low
· Reduced elasticity in your skin
· Blood pressure drops when the person tries to stand after lying down (low blood pressure or low blood volume due to lack of fluid)
The Benefits of Staying Hydrated
1. Water helps muscles and joints work better - When you’re well hydrated, the water both inside and outside contracting muscles cells provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so your muscle performs better. Water is also important for lubricating the joints to protect them during movement.
2. Water keeps your skin soft and looking youthful - When a person is severely dehydrated, skin is less elastic and can look sunken. Not only do you feel better when adequately hydrated, but you look more vibrant too.
3. Detoxing and Cleansing through the Kidneys–
a. Your kidneys need water to filter waste from the blood. The way they do that is by excreting it in urine, this process slows down when dehydrated and can lead to the build-up of toxic substances in the body.
b. Keeping hydrated is also necessary for urinary tract and kidney health and can prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
4. Cardiovascular Health - Dehydration lowers your blood volume, so your heart must work harder to pump the reduced amount of blood around the body to get enough oxygen to your cells. This can make everyday activities like walking up stairs and exercise more difficult.
5. Staying as cool as the other side of the pillow! - Your body releases heat by expanding blood vessels close to the skin’s surface (this is why your face gets red during exercise), resulting in more blood flow and more heat dissipated into the air. When you’re dehydrated, however, it takes a higher environmental temperature to trigger blood vessels to widen, so you stay hotter. Another way we regulate temperature is by sweating which happens regardless of hydration level, so staying hydrating on hot days is even more crucial because you’re losing more water through sweat.
6. Keeping hydrated can make you a genius. Well, not quite a genius, but being optimally hydrated provides the best environment for your brain cells to function. A drop in hydration levels can lead to tiredness, lowered concentration and memory function.
Tips for staying hydrated during a work out
1. Thirst is not an effective indicator of hydration status while exercising. There is usually a significant fluid loss before you even start to feel thirsty. When drinking, your thirst will be satisfied well before these losses have been fully replaced so relying on thirst alone to tell you when and how much to drink is not enough.
2. Drink small amounts of water frequently during your workout. This will help you ensure you’re getting enough water in over that time, but also avoids over-filling your stomach with water and feeling bloated.
3. Develop a plan for drinking during exercise based on your own sweat rates. This will depend on the temperature, type of exercise (e.g. you sweat more during cardio) and your own body’s tendency to sweat. (A cheeky note: while sweating you also lose important salts or electrolytes from your body, replacing these will be a topic for next time).
4. Always start exercise well hydrated. This will lowers the risk of dehydration during high intensity exercise. We recommended hydrating well over the few hours before starting exercise rather than taking in large amounts before starting. This will allow your body time to naturally reach it’s optimal hydration level and avoid over-hydrated, increased urination and feeling bloated.
Hope this information has helped! Happy hydration everyone!