H2O-ooooh, who knew water was so important?
Located in every cell, every tissue and every organ in the body water is an essential component for good health. With water making up more than half of one’s body weight it is no wonder that proper hydration is so critical. Read on to discover how this important element is crucial for athletes and for maintaining optimal health in general.
Water And General Health
Water is necessary for bodily functions such as temperature regulation and the removal of toxins and waste by way of perspiration, urination and bowel movements. Even a drop of as little as 2% has a notable impact on these functions. It even helps to maintain a youthful, soft, supple appearance while preventing skin from sagging and the formation of those dreaded wrinkles!
The Dirt On Dehydration
Your body literally looses water on a constant basis through urination, defecation, sweat and simply by breathing. Dehydration is one of the many negatives associated with water loss. Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty your body has already begun to undergo the effects of dehydration? It’s true! Other symptoms include a dry mouth, headache, fatigue, little (non existent or dark) urine output and the sensation of feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Keep in mind that as we age it becomes increasingly difficult to pick up on the signals that our body sends us to protect against dehydration, this is why it is important to assist the elderly on picking up on such cues. As a rule, it is a good idea to pay special attention to your urine – if it is colourless you are well hydrated if it is not than…bottoms up!
Factors Affecting Hydration
Water intake should be increased during times of stress, in hot weather, while exercising, with a fever, following (and during) caffeine or alcohol consumption (as these are diuretics) and with viruses (particularly those resulting in bouts of diarrhea or vomiting.) It is also important to take in an adequate amount of water if you suffer from kidney stones, are experiencing a bladder infection, if pregnant or breast feeding and when following a weight loss program.
If you find yourself feeling bloated or see signs of retention on your body don’t stop drinking water instead do the exact opposite! When you don’t drink enough water your body begins to hold onto every drop storing it for bodily functions. This is what leaves you looking and feeling bloated or fat when in actuality you are dehydrated. If you find yourself at this point you need to drink enough water to allow your body to return to its natural state of equilibrium. Give into your feelings of thirst and your body (along with its processes) will slowly return to normal.
Drink more, pee less?
Ever heard the phrase “drink more, pee less?” It’s true. Visualize your bladder as a sponge. A wet sponge will absorb far more than a dry sponge will… initially water will run right off a dry sponge. By drinking more water you keep your bladder in a constant state of moisture allowing it to absorb more water to hydrate the body resulting in less water waste. At first you may find you are urinating fairly often but overtime as your bladder adjusts to the increased water consumption you will find yourself urinating less frequently but in larger amounts. Remember, every time you dehydrate your body the process needs to start over and you will find yourself once again urinating more often.
Water And The Athlete
How does water consumption benefit you as an athlete?
- First, muscle requires proper hydration to move, flex, maintain tone and contract. It also accounts for approximately 73% of your lean body mass! Now there are some benefits to start with regardless of your sport of choice.
- Water also helps the body to metabolism stored fats. If you do not consume enough water your fat deposits will increase where proper hydration will actually decrease such deposits.
- Acting as a natural appetite suppressant, drinking a glass of water can literally stop your hunger. In fact, often people mistake dehydration with feelings of hunger! Plus, downing a cold glass of water has been shown to rev up the metabolism.
- Feeling fatigued? Reach for a glass of water. Water removes toxin build up from the kidneys and liver relieving symptoms of fatigue. What does that mean for the athlete? It could mean an extra rep, an additional mile or the difference between powering through a workout or not doing one at all.
- Sore joints and cramping affecting your training? Water acts as a joint lubricant and provides cushioning to both the spine and joints during movement. It also reduces the incidence of cramping while vamping up endurance and strength!
- Lastly, water is the essential ingredient needed for nutrient absorption, proper digestion and chemical reactions in the body. Without water all the protein, carbohydrates and costly supplements will have been consumed all for nothing.
To answer your question. How does water not benefit you as an athlete?
Be well and stay hydrated!!