What you don’t know
Everyone knows that drinking enough water benefits our health. And I know what you’re thinking now, “Another article about how much water to drink blah, blah, blah, according to my wieght and activity level blah, blah, blah..” Well, yes I can address that stuff for you later but, it’s a well-known fact of life that we NEED water to survive…not coffee and protein shakes. It’s my goal here to explain HOW water helps our bodies and minds throughout the day, as well as how it enhances our exercise experience.
Water Makeup and the Body
A couple things you may or may not know about good ole’ fashioned water: we are approximately 50%-70% H2O. Every cell, every organ, every tissue within uses water for multiple functions. Too many functions to name in this simple blog and possibly more than we have even discovered. Many people think that hydration should increase because we workout–or during the hotter summer months due to the loss of water while sweating. While this is true, the bigger picture reveals that we lose water all day long not only by sweating, but by breathing and digesting food, too the activities we do year-round. It is important to rehydrate the body systems to keep them operating normally.
“Which body systems?” I’m glad you asked…
Water does a whole lot more than quench your thirst and regulate your internal temperature. Without surprise, water keeps the body tissues moist. The circulatory system needs adequate water supply to keep blood pressure regulated. Our skeletal system desperately needs water to cushion and lubricate the joints. Imagine: living a hydrated life helps relieve your joint pain and inflammation. Water as a solution to knee pain sounds a little far-fetched doesn’t it? BUT, the synovial fluid (lubricating substance between cartilages of the knee) in our body is almost 95% water. The more dehydrated we are, and 3 out of 4 Americans are dehydrated, the less synovial fluid our bodies will produce. Additionally, the kidneys, liver, and intestines are huge advocates of proper hydration. These systems need water to help deliver waste out of the body. Water can reduce the risk of constipation by softening the products moving through our intestinal tract, and making it easier on the intestines. You know what they say, happy intestines–happy life! Or something like that.
Hydration and Performance
Let’s add more pieces to the water puzzle. Completing strength workouts increases the body’s demand of water. You might wonder how being under-hydrated impacts an exercise session. Can it reduce strength, performance, balance, mood even..? Research on hydration and strength training tells us that being under-hydrated diminishes our ability to complete multiple repetitions. In other words, while dehydrated you may perform 1 single repetition of an exercise at the weight you normally do. However, you will not be able to complete the usual 8, 9, 10 reps of an exercise with your normal weight. Researchers believe that if you aren’t drinking enough water, even mildly dehydrated, your central neural drive becomes decreased. This means your brain will literally tell your body to stop early. So, a strength workout will likely feel more unpleasant when you don’t properly prepare by drinking enough water.
This general guideline that follows is based on studies of all levels of dehydration. It is important to point out that thirst alone is not a great indicator of hydration. However, drinking water when your thirsty instead of caffeinated and/or sugary beverages is a good start to becoming more hydrated. Urine is a great indicator of hydration level and is easy to notice throughout the day. There is no hard and fast rule for each individual, but if the urine you leave behind is clear to light yellow, you’re in good shape! If urine is dark colored or tinted orange, then you could use some water. Prior to your strength workout, use these guidelines to be at the top of your water game:
- Drink 14 – 20 ounces of water 2 hours before a workout (it’s worth waking up earlier)
- Drink another 5 – 10 ounces 30 minutes before a workout (on the way to the gym)
- Drink 8 or so ounces every 20 minutes during exercise (more if exercising in high temp.)
As you can see, adequate water levels help you get the most out of your strength training sessions. It also is essential to keep the master machine and all of its parts functioning properly with the use of water! Water is so basic to life well-being. Let’s make sure you’re getting enough!