After the year we’ve had, having the freedom to leave our homes and get out and about this summer is definitely putting an extra spring in the step for many. With many families set for their camping trips, many outdoor enthusiasts planning their hikes, and everyone else excited to enjoy BBQ’s and picnics in the park with loved ones, there’s one thing that is often overlooked but incredibly important: good hydration.
HOW IMPORTANT IS STAYING HYDRATED, REALLY?
While we all know that water is one of our most basic human needs, it also has significant effects on our:
- Body temperature - water regulates our body temperature through its involvement in the perspiration process
- Circulation - our circulation is the mechanism by which our organs, tissues and cells receive the nutrients they need to carry out their roles and survive. When there isn’t enough water in the body, our circulation won’t be as smooth
- Joint lubrication and hence smooth movement and injury prevention
- Productivity and concentration - having good hydration helps us think clearly and concentrate
- Mood and emotions - when we’re dehydrated, our mood can be affected as we feel more tired and irritable
- Infection risk - good hydration helps prevent infections
To put it into perspective, good hydration is essential for our whole body function - from our cellular processes to the actions of our muscles and tissues - to keep them at an optimal and healthy level.
Hydration in sports
Studies have shown that losing sweat equivalent to 2% of our body weight, without replacing it, causes a noticeable decrease in our physical and mental performance, while increasing our risk of nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems - a massive setback in any sport or training.
Losing 5% or more of our body weight in perspiration without replacement with good hydration has been shown to decrease our capacity for work and sports performance by 30%. This also makes you more vulnerable to injuries and further set-backs.
It’s because of the large volume of water in our bodies
To put the importance of hydration into perspective:
- The human body is approximately 66% water
- Our bones are 22% water
- Our muscles are 76% water
- Our blood is 83% water
- Our lungs are 90% water
- Our brain is 95% water
This is why when we’re dehydrated, our performance and body function can be severely affected.
Signs of dehydration
The signs of dehydration can differ greatly by our age groups. If you’re in your golden years, you may be dehydrated without any clear signs or symptoms. Children may not understand or recognise their need for fluids, so may not ‘feel’ dehydrated, but may be irritable, tired, have a dry mouth, or have sunken eyes or cheeks. Adults may experience dizziness, fatigue, less frequent and more concentrated urine, and thirst.
How can I stay hydrated this summer?
While many of the foods we eat, especially fruits and vegetables, have a large water quantity, other tips to staying hydrated and keeping your fluids up include:
- Drinking water straight from a cool tap, at approximately 16°C, has shown to be the best temperature by promoting a greater volume intake while reducing further loss from perspiration
- A glass of water first thing in the morning, and then right before bed, is a great way to promote optimum hydration
- Always carry a water bottle with you - and make sure your family members are doing the same. Give your kids the option to decorate their bottles with stickers or other decorations to encourage them to keep their bottle close with them
- Remember that thirst is already a sign of dehydration - so drink before you get thirsty in the first place
- When exercising, drink one to two cups of water 30 minutes before and half to one-cup fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise
- If you suffer from allergies or are taking medications, you should be extra careful to stay well-hydrated as our kidneys and liver need extra water to process medicines
- Use the colour of your urine as a guide to your level of hydration and drink more water accordingly
Don’t forget to keep up those exercise levels, too
While you’re staying hydrated over the summer, don’t forget to get in your 30 minutes a day of exercise too, to help promote optimum health and well-being. Regular exercise has just as many benefits to your body, your mood, your performance and much more.
If any pains or aches are holding you back or preventing you from the exercise you want to be doing, we’re always here to help. Give our podiatry team a call on (07) 4162 7633.