Water is essential to the human body.
Water has many functions that keep us alive. Water makes up more than half of our body. It protects vital organs, facilitates digestion and waste removal, and regulates body temperature. Water fuels our cells to perform the functions necessary for our survival.
Since water is essential for the maintenance of our body’s daily functions , it is necessary to replenish the water that is lost throughout the day. According to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink about 13 cups of water a day and women should drink about 9 cups per day. However, this is just a general guideline. The amount of water you drink depends on many things such as your health, your environment, and your activity level.
In a one hour bout of exercise you can lose > 4 cups of water depending on the intensity of your workout and the environment you are doing it in. As someone that is becoming more physically active, you will need to consume more water than someone who does not exercise.
If you do not consume the proper amount of water it can lead to dehydration.
It is important that you drink before, during and after working out to avoid becoming dehydrated. Dehydration causes your muscles to fatigue, cramp and you can even lose balance & coordination. It also causes your body to be unable to properly cool itself, which can lead to heat exhaustion or in more severe cases, a heat stroke. Even small amounts of water loss can decrease performance during a workout. For example, you might feel “flat” “stale” or “tired.” A common sign of dehydration is when you begin to yawn.
While you are exercising water is usually the best option to replace lost fluids. However, if you are exercising at a high intensity for more than 45-60 minutes you may prefer to consume a sports drink to help replenish fluids and electrolytes that have been lost. It is important to prevent dehydration before the problem occurs, which is why you should drink fluids before signs of thirst or dehydration begin to show. There are a variety of things you can consume to replace lost fluids throughout the day such as: water, smoothies, certain juices, and eating fruits and vegetables.
Keep in mind that consuming food or drinks high in fat or calories may also slow you down. Additionally, caffeinated beverages including black/green tea and coffee can also impact your performance. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause your heart rate to soar during your workout. If you are a regular coffee drinker in the morning who experiences a “crash” later in the day, be sure to time your workouts strategically. Choosing to drink water throughout the day and making healthy choices will provide you with the fuel your body needs to exercise.