It's finally starting to feel like summer which means more sun, more heat, and more sweating! Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself and regulating it's core temperature. As your body sweats, it loses fluid, which is essential to your body being able to function. Hydration is a very important subject matter that is easily forgotten or put off because of other things happening in our lives that only comes to the forefront when we are exercising, sweating, or feel thirsty. When you start to feel thirsty, your body is already starting to become dehydrated.
One of the times we should be more concerned about our hydration status is during exercise. As you exercise, you use your muscles to generate heat and your body creates beads of sweat that evaporate and pull heat away from the body in order to maintain an appropriate core body temperature. In order for our body to be able to function at optimal levels, it requires fluid in order for muscles to function and for your body to create sweat. According to Sports Dietitians Australia, " As dehydration increases, there is a gradual reduction in physical and mental performance. There is an increase in heart rate and body temperature, and an increased perception of how hard the exercise feels, especially when exercising in the heat. Studies show that loss of fluid equal to 2% of body mass is sufficient to cause a detectable decrease in performance (that’s a 1.4 kg loss in a 70 kg athlete).Dehydration of greater than 2% loss of body weight increases the risk of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastro-intestinal problems during exercise." So it is important to pay attention to fluid intake and hydrate based on your activity level. Water is the best option to stay hydrated, but as we do more prolonged and vigorous activity, we may require fluids with things like electrolytes and carbohydrates. These fluids can include sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, which replace fluid and salts that are lost as the body continues to sweat.
It is also almost more important to be aware of your hydration on a day to day basis. It is best to constantly stay on top of your hydration throughout the day in order to prevent dehydration in the first place. For best results, your body requires a certain amount of fluid to function at a basic level that can be determined by taking your current weight in pounds and dividing it by 2 and drinking that amount of water, in ounces, throughout your day. For example, a 150lb person should be drinking at least 75oz of water per day as a starting point. Then, if that person were to exercise or drink anything that is a diuretic, such as coffee/caffeine, alcohol, soda, most teas, then they would need to follow these things up with an equal amount of water. This means that if you drink two 8oz cups of coffee without adding anything else in to the mix, that same 150lb person would now need to drink 91oz of water for that day!
These are some basic ideas to get you thinking about how much water you should actually drink throughout the day. Most people are well below what could be considered a functional level of hydration. As you begin to give your body the fluid that it needs, you will begin to notice a difference in energy level, cognitive function, and athletic performance. This is because your body requires fluid for the majority of it's functions. I always remind my clients to drink a lot of water after getting a massage because during a massage we work the muscles like you would during exercise and also release toxins that have been pent up in muscles, which all require fluid to help flush and rehydrate your system. Not to mention, hydration post massage and exercise greatly reduces DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Soreness occurs because your muscles create a biproduct when they are used, which is commonly referred to as lactic acid buildup, that will linger for days if you don't rehydrate your body. This is also particularly important for us here in Colorado! We are at a higher elevation and dryer climate than most places. This means we lose fluids quicker than climates with more humidity and require more water intake. Increased water intake helps mitigate headaches and fatigue associated with an increase in altitude that out-of-state-travelers tend to experience when they get here.
Our bodies are meant to function and be used, but the more you know about them, the more you can take care of them! I hope this gives some insight on your body that you are able to take with you and incorporate into your daily life. You only get one body and one life, take great care of it and it will do amazing things for you!
Sports Dietitians Australia. (2009 June) Fact Sheet Fluid in Sports. https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fluids-in-sport.pdf