Water Works: How to Prevent Dehydration this Summer

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How do you know when you’re dehydrated?  How do you keep hydrated?  Do you mean drinking water?  If so, how much water should you drink?  These are all very simple questions, but many of us don’t know the answers! Let’s change that.

Whether you exercise or not, hydration is still an important factor in everyday life.  Our body is an intricate matrix of systems that work together so we can function properly.  If one of those systems is off, it forces the remaining systems to work harder.  It’s like riding a bicycle with a poorly lubricated chain.  In order for the bike to progress forward, one would have to pedal harder and faster than if the chain was well-lubricated.

Our body depends on water to survive.  Every cell, tissue and organ needs water.  Without water, our body cannot remove waste, metabolize food, lubricate joints, maintain its temperature and transport nutrients.  Water makes up more than half of our body weight and is the most important nutrient that it uses.

We lose water every day when we sweat, use the restroom and even breathe.  We lose it at an even faster rate than normal during high temperatures, exercise, sickness, vomiting or diarrhea.  When this happens, our bodies become dehydrated.

Have you ever felt so thirsty that when you drank water it was best thing you ever had?  That is most likely due to being dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Darker urine or very little urine
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness or fatigue

According to Harris Lieberman, Ph.D., if you go 4-8 hours without water, you are mildly dehydrated. If you go around 24 hours without water, you are severely dehydrated. In order to get the body back to its normal state after being dehydrated, we have to go through the process of hydration–replacing the missing water. This can be done by:

  • Drinking water and other beverages high in water content, such as tea, coffee, lemonade, vegetable juice, fruit juice, milk, etc.
  • Eating foods high in water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, green peppers, lettuce, radishes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach, grapefruit, baby carrots and cantaloupe.
  • Consuming ice chips.

But this still leaves one question unanswered:  How much water should we drink?  There are a variety of responses, but what I always recommend to my Full of Life Fitness members and clients is to drink half of their body weight in ounces of water everyday.  For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water a day.

Increasing water intake abruptly can be a challenge at first.  The key is to slowly work your way up to the allotted amount of water each day and eventually your body will adapt.  Hopefully this will whet your appetite for a better-working body!

– Heather Binns, Fabletics Master

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