Wednesday, 12 March 2008

3 Health Reasons to Stay Hydrated

Summertime is the time of year we spend outside exercising, sunbathing, picnicking, and just enjoying the outdoors. Spending more time in the sun means your body will perspire in order to regulate temperature. That takes water, lots of it.

Here are 3 reasons why you want to stay properly hydrated during the summer months:

1. Lowers You Risk of Heart Attack:

When your arteries get clogged-up with plague, it can lead to the onset coronary disease and eventually, a heart attack. Since the heart is one of the most important organs in your body, it is important to keep it healthy.

One of the best ways to prevent coronary disease, in addition to changes in your diet, is to drink more water. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, drinking more water is associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary disease.

The reason for this is that proper hydration keeps your blood thin and flowing. When you do not have enough water in your body and dehydration sets in, your blood becomes thick and does not flow well. This gives plague the ability to build-up much easier.

2. Helps Control Appetite:

The mechanism in our body that controls thirst is not that good, especially as we age. In fact, one of the biggest health issues of aging adults is chronic dehydration due the fact that their body is not telling them to drink. The signal is rather to eat something. So, they have food rather than water to satisfy the urge.

So, if you feel like you need to eat something, try drinking water first and see how you feel. In most cases, that urge to eat goes away because your thirst has been satisfied and your belly is full.

Avoid substituting a high calorie drink like soda or sports drinks over water. Drinking water will reduce your calorie intake. It will also allow you to burn calories more efficiently as well as keep everything in your intestinal track moving normally. You know what that means.

3. Maintains Vital Functions In The Body:

Over 50% of your body is comprised of water. Without it, you will die. Water helps with critical functions like maintaining body temperature, transferring nerve impulses, delivering critical nutrients, providing a cushion for your vital organs, and aiding in the digestion and processing of foods, just to name a few.

On hot days, your body can lose a significant amount of water through sweating. This is the body's way of cooling itself. Not drinking enough water can disrupt and shut down bodily functions. If left untreated, this can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can lead to death.

How much water should you be drinking every day. Here is a formula to follow:

Take your weight in pound and divide by 2. This number is how many ounces of water you should drink per day before you factor in activities like exercise.

So, a 150 pound woman should drink 75 ounces of water per day. If she is exercising for an hour in the heat and loses another 40 ounces of water, then that needs to be added to the 75 ounces. This is referred to as the "sweat rate".

The best way to calculate your sweat rate is weigh yourself before you exercise. Then exercise for an hour and re-weigh yourself. Add back in the weight of water consumed while you were exercising. The weight you lost represents the amount of water you lost during exercise.

When I was training for an ironman race in Kona Hawaii, I did this and determined that my sweat rate was about 60 ounces per hour. So that meant that I needed to drink 60 ounces of fluids per hour to stay hydrated. It took me 11 hours to complete the race, so you can only imagine how many bottles of water I went through.

Also, a clear sign that you are dehydrated is the color of your urine. If your urine is clear, then you are properly hydrated. If it has a yellow color to it, then you are at some level dehydrated. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are. The other way to measure it is how often you need to relieve yourself. If you are only going once or twice per day, chances are you are not drinking enough water.