Why and How to Stay Hydrated: What’s the Point?
There are many reasons why one would want to stay hydrated. One of them is to increase their chances of performing better during exercise. Another reason is because they feel thirsty after exercising or even just before doing so. There are several things that can cause thirst, but there are some factors which will make you lose your sense of taste and smell as well as feeling sick if not properly treated.
When you exercise, your body uses up fluids. You may have noticed that when you exercise, your urine becomes dark brown and sometimes even black. These changes happen due to the loss of sodium (table salt) from your blood. When you stop exercising, these salts are reabsorbed back into your blood through the kidneys where they are replaced with fresh ones.
However, if you don’t consume enough fluid while exercising, your kidneys will eventually become overwhelmed and your blood volume will decrease. Your body will then begin to rely on other means to replace lost fluids such as urination. If you do not get enough fluids while exercising, you could experience cramps and nausea.
If dehydration causes vomiting and diarrhea, it can lead to electrolyte imbalances in the body causing problems like headaches, fatigue, confusion or even seizures. This can also lead to muscle fatigue and cramps (or even a major seizure) during or after exercise. Muscle cramps are painful and can be caused by several other things. It may be the loss of other minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
In any case, it is a good idea to keep hydrated at all times to avoid all these problems.
How to Stay Hydrated
What should you drink?
One of the best things to drink is water. It helps to prevent dehydration and it helps to keep your organs functioning properly. Water is good for flushing toxins out of the body and keeping the skin, hair, and nails looking great. It can be found almost anywhere in the world. It is cheap and readily available at grocery stores, convenience stores as well as gas stations. Drinking enough water each day (about 10-12 cups or 2.5 liters for men and about 7-9 cups or 1.8 liters for women) should help you stay hydrated.
Other “good” liquids to drink would be diluted fruit juices without sugar added (dilute it by 50% with water). Milk is also a good choice as long as it is not “flavored” or loaded with sugar. Stay away from sodas which are full of sugar and other unnatural chemicals. Tap water can also be a good choice, but it should be purified first (via a water purification system or by boiling) if it isn’t safe to drink due to where you live.
Exercising in the heat can also make you more thirsty. It is best to sip on liquids every 15-20 minutes while exercising. Another good choice would be to eat foods that have a high water content such as cucumbers, oranges, and watermelon. Eating these foods can help your body to remain hydrated as well as give it the extra energy it needs to exercise.
Dehydration can also be caused by breathing through the mouth which causes faster water loss. It is best to breathe through the nose which keeps the body more hydrated.
If you are worried that you might be dehydrated then there are some ways of finding out. One way is to check the color of your urine. Clear or slight yellow urine means that you are properly hydrated, darker yellow urine indicates mild dehydration, and brown or brick red color indicates severe dehydration. Another test is to actually pinch your skin on the back of your arm.
If the “pinched” spot remains flat, then you are hydrated. If the spot remains “depressed”, then you need to drink some water.
Most of the time, exercise coupled with drinking enough liquids should keep you from becoming dehydrated. Just always remember to listen to your body. It will tell you when you need liquids.
Reviewed by Mara M. Lee, M.D.
Sources & references used in this article:
Stay hydrated: basolateral fluids shaping tissues by MF Schliffka, JL Maître – Current opinion in genetics & development, 2019 – Elsevier
Materials science: Cracks help membranes to stay hydrated by J Kamcev, BD Freeman – Nature, 2016 – nature.com
A tensometer to study strain deformation and failure behavior of hydrated systems via in situ environmental scanning electron microscopy by R Rizzieri, FS Baker, AM Donald – Review of scientific instruments, 2003 – aip.scitation.org
Stay Hydrated: How motivational design can support the caregiver’s role in patient participation by M Wendt – 2018 – ls00012.mah.se
WHAT DO CZECH NINTH-GRADERS DRINK TO STAY HYDRATED? by K Jana – Acta Salus Vitae, 2018 – odborne.casopisy.palestra.cz
STAY HYDRATED DURING THE WORKDAY! by N Moyen – kenzen.com