How Much Water Should You Drink?
Exercise and Hydration
Why Water is Essential For Health by Dr. Vishal Verma
hether you are training for an athletic event, exercising for your health or simply shooting a game of hoops with your friends, it is essential that you remain properly hydrated. Good hydration begins with drinking the appropriate amount of water before, during and after any type of physical activity. Water is used by the body to regulate body temperature, assist in digestion, remove waste from the body and lubricate and protect your vital organs, including the spinal cord, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood and brain. Fluid loss occurs through perspiration, digestion and breathing, which is why it is essential that you are drinking enough fluids and eating foods rich in water.
Water Loss and Activity Levels
According to the American Council on Exercise, you must replace the amount of fluids lost due to daily activities to maintain proper health. If you do not drink enough water for the body to perspire and cool itself, you can end up dehydrated. Depending on the intensity of your exercise and the air temperature, you can lose more than one quart of water an hour during exercise through perspiration. Every cell, tissue and organ in the human body requires water to function properly. Although other drinks can help you be properly hydrated, they can add
extra calories. For this reason, it is best to get most of your fluids by drinking water. Water helps to detoxify the body and improve your gut health, which can reduce your risk of a variety of illnesses, including asthma, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gallstones, glaucoma, migraines, periodontal disease and obesity. Additionally, drinking plenty of water can help decrease your risk of colorectal, breast and bladder cancer by as much as 50 percent.
Symptoms of Dehydration and How to Avoid Them
There are different levels of dehydration (mild, moderate and severe dehydration) depending on the amount of fluid that is missing from your body. Bodily functions, including breathing, urinating, defecating, tear production, sweating and salivating, cause you to lose water. Dehydration can occur due to excess sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, a fever or an illness such as diabetes. The symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include a dry mouth, thirst, urinating less than normal, dark-colored urine, dry cool skin, headaches and muscle cramps. If the dehydration worsens, your urine can be very dark yellow or urination may not. Additionally, you may experience fainting, dizziness, sunken eyes, lack of energy, confusion, increased respiration and a rapid heart rate.
The amount of water you need to consume daily depends on a number of factors. For example, those who live in hot climates require more water than those who live in cooler climates. Physical activity can also increase the amount of fluids that you need to consume. Finally, if you are ill or have a health problem, you may require more fluid than others. According to researchers, you should drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. This means if you weigh 150 pounds, you will need to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. If you live in a hot climate or are physically active, you will need to increase your water consumption even further. The best way to determine if you are drinking enough water is to check your urine, which should be light yellow or colorless. If your urine is dark yellow, you are dehydrated and need to increase your fluid intake.
Benefits of Adding Electrolytes
The fluids in your body are comprised primarily of water and electrolytes. Electrolytes include five major minerals—chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Electrolytes in the body mix with water, creating ions. These ions are located both inside and outside of the cells in the body and transmit electrical impulses along nerve paths for muscle movement. If your fluid and electrolyte levels are not balanced, it can cause incorrect nerve impulses which can cause muscle spasms, reduced digestion, nerve problems, muscle issues and cardiac difficulties. Calcium is used for maintaining healthy teeth and bones, nerve signaling, blood clotting, cellular division and muscle contractions. Potassium helps to regulate heart contractions and blood pressure, while helping your muscles to function properly. Magnesium is used to maintain heart rhythms, improve digestion, build bone, contract and relax muscles, improve digestion and reduce anxiety. Chloride helps to maintain proper fluid balance in the body. Finally, sodium is used for nerve signaling, muscle contraction and fluid balance. When you sweat, you lose not only fluid but also important electrolytes. This can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. An
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