Hydration is a vital part of being healthy, especially for physically active people; nobody argues with that. HOWEVER, unless we’re feeling extremely parched or fighting through 100 degree weather, drinking water is rarely as much of a priority as we know it should be.
- Our body is about 60% water.
- 75% of our muscles are water.
- A 2% decrease in water content in our body can result in dehydration.
- 0% of the water from Dixie Cups make it into your mouth during races.
I heard once that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. If your body is mostly water and your muscles are almost entirely water, it seems ridiculous not to take hydration just as seriously as your training or exercise. Symptoms of dehydration vary in severity, but can be detrimental to performance and general well-being.
- Because water is so important in joints and tissues, dehydration increases the risk for injury
- Cramps, headaches, extra fatigue, constipation, and reduced endurance are all typical symptoms of dehydration
- In about an hour of physical activity, our body loses up to 1.5 liters of water. (some marathon runners sweat up to a gallon of water an hour)
- Dehydration also increases heart rate, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, and decreases heat tolerance
Whether those were revolutionary things to hear, or if they just mildly blew your mind, you’re probably thinking to yourself “I wish he’d tell me what I can do about it now”. So I will.
- The lighter the color of your urine, the more hydrated you usually are
- Drink straight water if your activity doesn’t last longer than about 45 minutes; past that, you will need carbohydrates and electrolytes in your drink to fully replenish your body
- In general, drink about 7 ounces of water every 20 minutes of exercise
- Before exercising drink about 20 ounces of water, and after drink about 30 ounces
- Once you feel thirsty, you’re usually already dehydrated; start drinking when you don’t feel like you need to
- As a rule of thumb, try to match your fluid intake with your fluid output
I would say that hydration is more important than we think, but almost everybody already knows how important hydration is. The main thing is that a lot of people still choose not to do much about it, which is now the difference between you and them. Help yourself be awesome, drink up!