Most of us actually drink far too little.
Water, that is.
Water is a necessity for human survival, but in a marketplace that is saturated with sports drinks, coffee, soda pop and energy elixirs, plain old water loses a lot of its allure. As important as we all know water is, most of us are in a dehydrated rut of our own making.
How much water do you need?
You’ve probably heard the guideline about drinking “half your body weight in ounces of water” each day. That guideline is actually a fairly dependable prescription, but other things come into play. Here are a few factors to consider as you determine your H20 needs:
How physically active are you? The more you sweat, the greater your water need. One way to determine how much water you should drink during your workout is to simply weigh yourself—without your clothes—just before and right after a workout. The variation should be less than 2% of your starting weight. Drink enough water before or during workouts to keep your fluctuation within that 2% range.
What else are you drinking? Coffee and alcohol are both diuretics, which means they may increase urination and subsequent loss of electrolytes. Caffeine’s stimulant properties increase body temperature, which exacerbates water loss. If you are drinking multiple cans of soda per day, you may not be getting enough water because you’re quenching your thirst with soft drinks instead.
Where does it hurt? Those who suffer from chronic pain need to seriously evaluate their water intake. Did you know that the treatments you may already be pursuing—such as chiropractic work, acupuncture or massage—will be enhanced simply by being better hydrated?
Have you been ill? Your body loses fluids when you come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Drinking more fluids may also help in the treatment of other health conditions, such as infections in the urinary tract.
You’re all wet!
Here are six tips to help you stay afloat as you change your liquid outlook:
- First things first. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Try warm water with a squeeze of lemon; it will help your body stay alkaline and may also enhance your regularity.
- Be prepared. Carry a container of water with you at all times. When you have a water bottle literally at your fingertips, you’ll typically find yourself unconsciously drinking more water throughout the day.
- Go one-for-one at happy hour. Whether you’re enjoying a cocktail at happy hour, dinner or poolside, try to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you knock back. (You’ll thank me for this suggestion in the morning!)
- Swap it out. Not all your water has to be plain. Have a nice hot cup of herbal tea instead. Just be sure your blend doesn’t contain caffeine. Tread lightly with store-bought flavored waters—most are laden with sugar or artificial sugar and flavoring. Instead, make your own flavored water using a fruit infusion jug.
- Jog your memory. Put reminders into your phone or daily calendar to drink at regular intervals. Sometimes we don’t hydrate because we are simply too involved in other things and we forget!
- Take baby steps. If you’re struggling to drink even one glass of water per day, trying to guzzle a gallon at once may not be sustainable. Make it a goal to gradually increase your water consumption—by even a little—each day.