Hydration is essential to life itself! Our bodies especially need water, which carries nutrients to all cells and helps convert food into energy. Water protects and cushions vital organs, lubricates joints, regulates temperature and moistens the air we breathe. Indeed, water joins carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and fat as the necessary ingredients to live and thrive.
In spite of this, clinical studies through the past 10 years have shown that nearly 75% of adults are measurably dehydrated, and those 60-plus years of age may be significantly dehydrated. Unfortunately, the symptoms of dehydration — dry mouth, headache, reduced sweating, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, weakness, fatigue and more — may go unnoticed, be dismissed or be attributed to an ongoing condition.
What effect does exercise have?
Any increase in exertion intensifies the body’s demand for water, and it’s fair to say that most individuals in exercise classes start from a state of dehydration, which is then exacerbated by exercising.
During strenuous exercise, in particular, performance is measurably affected. Dehydrated persons report less stamina and greater feelings of fatigue, weakness and muscular discomfort following exercise.
Keep in mind the following steps to improve your hydration:
Establish a daily routine that includes drinking more water.
Increase hydration in the hours before any exercise.
Hydrate during exercise. Group exercise instructors should encourage hydrating during classes.
Continue rehydrating for at least four hours following strenuous exercise and at least two hours following moderate exercise.
Adequate hydration varies for each individual and is based on several factors, such as climate (temperature and humidity), medical conditions, medications, metabolism, level of fitness and weight, to name just a few. The best way to know if hydration is adequate is to be aware of the volume, frequency and appearance of urine. Excluding the effects of medications and diet, lighter, straw-colored urine indicates sufficient hydration while darker, less frequent and lower volume signifies dehydration.
Hiking requires even greater hydration
Some hikers erroneously limit their water intake, so they don’t have to “find a bush” while hiking. Almost undoubtedly, these individuals are significantly more likely to be dehydrated and experience symptoms like lightheadedness, fatigue, dizziness and weakness. Those who limit water intake before a hike have an even greater risk for exercise-associated dehydration. Never let a sense of modesty or concerns about slowing down the group prevent good hydration!
The key to successful hydration relies on establishing good personal routines of water intake and drinking water before, during and after exercise to maintain adequate hydration. Cheers to H2O! QCBN
By Nicholas Brown
Nicholas Brown is a kinesiologist and certified fitness professional as well as manager of the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club. Membership is open to anyone 50-plus years, and guest consultations are available to meet with a professional to cater a program to an individual’s needs. To reach Nick or for more information, call 928-708-3133.