Are there health benefits of staying hydrated? Over 43% of Americans drink less than the recommended minimum of 4 cups of water a day, with 7% claiming that they don’t drink water at all. If you asked those closest to you, oftentimes they too would argue that they probably don’t drink enough water. Drinking enough water and staying hydrated throughout the day is an important part of staying healthy, which is why we all need to do a better job of prioritizing how much water we consume per day.
Nearly every system in the body relies on water to function, but this is just one of the many reasons it can be beneficial to keep yourself properly hydrated. Water also plays a key role in how our body heals from injuries and fights off illness. Over 60% of the human body is composed of water which makes water an essential part of your health and overall well-being.
Take a look at some of the health benefits of staying hydrated and some tips you can implement to make sure you’re getting enough water throughout the day.
What is Hydration?
Hydration is the process of how your body absorbs liquids, most often water. The level of hydration you should aim to reach depends on many personal factors, such as your weight, activity level, geographical location, and overall health. According to Mayo Clinic, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is between 11 cups for women and 16 cups for men. If a person is active or they are located in a warmer climate, the recommended amount of fluid intake can increase and/or change.
There are many factors that go into the exact number of cups of water you should consume daily, which is why experts have tried to come up with a few helpful methods throughout the years for people to remember how many cups to have per day. One such example is the tried and true recommendation of always consuming at least 8 cups of water per day. You also can use a daily intake calculator to find your hydration goals based on your personal weight and activity level. To get a better understanding of your unique hydration needs and recommended goals based on your body makeup and activity levels, you should always consult with a qualified healthcare professional.
While water is the most common liquid for hydration, there are other drinks that can be beneficial as well. If you are wanting something more flavorful than plain water, there are alternatives you can use to add to your staple of water including zero or no-calorie beverages which can include black coffee, tea, flavored, or seltzer water. Higher intensity athletes and those who participate in more than 60 minutes of moderate physical activity should consider drinking sports drinks in addition to plain water in order to replace the carbohydrates and electrolytes that are lost during a workout.
Other beverages, such as sugary sodas and energy drinks can actually have the opposite effect on hydration, so it’s important to make sure what you’re consuming is beneficial to your health and doesn’t act as a diuretic that can cause you to lose water as opposed to retaining it.
Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated
There is no shortage of benefits for staying hydrated and making sure that you’re getting the recommended amount of water per day with the guidance of a healthcare professional. One of the most important benefits of staying hydrated is that it helps your body function and complete its natural tasks.
For instance, your circulatory system is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to other parts of your body, and dehydration can cause complications within your circulatory system. Without a functioning circulatory system, you can potentially experience a stroke, heart disease, or a significant decrease in blood pressure. In addition to keeping systems like the circulatory system running, there are many other benefits of being hydrated, including:
For those who are struggling to lose weight, drinking a large glass of water before meals can help prevent overeating. Whenever hunger strikes, try drinking water before you grab a snack. In some cases, you aren’t actually hungry, you are just dehydrated. Drinking water before a meal can often act like an appetite suppressant and make you think you’re feeling full while eating, thus eating less in the long run. Water can also help you improve your metabolism.
Water plays the role of a thermoregulator in the body. If your body becomes too hot, water will be lost through sweat in order to cool down. This is especially important in warmer climates, where the benefits of staying hydrated are greater. Water also plays a key role in helping your body temperature get back to a normal range after working out or exerting lots of energy throughout the day. Proper hydration is also just as important during cooler weather. Most people aren’t always aware of how much water they can be losing while exercising or moving in cold weather as well.
Water can help to lubricate your joints, preventing injury and soreness, as well as improving your range of movement.
Improve Physical Performance
Another benefit of staying properly hydrated throughout the day is that it can also help improve physical performance. When the body is dehydrated, the ability to perform continuous bouts of exercise is diminished and physical performance is impaired.
Reduction in Headaches
Improved Brain Function
When you’re not getting enough water throughout the day, you might experience a lack of focus. Impaired cognitive function can make recalling important memories difficult, reduce the ability to control one’s mood, and impact levels of concentration.
Another benefit of staying hydrated is that it can help to speed up recovery from injuries. As we’ve highlighted earlier, one of the important ways hydration helps our bodies is by helping our circulatory system move nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. This essential process is vital in helping our bodies heal from injuries properly and speed up the recovery process from injuries.
What is Dehydration?
If you don’t hit your water intake goals, you might experience the opposite of hydration, or what is known as dehydration. This is caused by losing more of your body’s water than you are taking in. Even losing as little as 1.5% of your body’s water can cause symptoms. While it is important to quench your thirst as soon as you feel it, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
There is a rare condition called hyponatremia, where excessive water intake can dilute the blood’s electrolytes and can be medically serious. This has been known to happen with endurance athletes. This is usually a level of water intake far in excess of the recommended amount.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Hydration is an important aspect of your overall health and brings an extensive list of benefits, but you might be curious as to how you’re supposed to consume the suggested amount of water with all the other busy things you’re responsible for throughout the day? There are many things you can do and implement throughout your day to reach your water intake goals without really thinking about it. Take a look at some of the best tips for staying hydrated throughout the day.
- Purchase a water bottle you love and refill it throughout the day. Water accessibility is one of the main reasons for dehydration. If you are consistent and carry a bottle with you at all times, you should have no problem reaching your goal intake. There are also plenty of water bottles that have been designed with special decals and graphics to help you track your water intake throughout the day so you can consume certain amounts throughout the day at specific intervals. If you find that you’re struggling to consume the recommended amount of liquid at the end of the day, breaking it up into intervals can be a great way to track your progress and hold yourself accountable.
- Always drink water with your meals. Not only is ordering water at restaurants cheaper, but it’s an easy way to get in a glass or two.
- Adding lemons, limes, or other fruit to your water can improve the taste if you aren’t the biggest fan of plain water. You can purchase pre-frozen fruit at any grocery store and drop in a few pieces each morning.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as melons, cucumbers, and lettuce. A simple salad for lunch can help with your water intake and overall hydration for health.
As you can see, staying hydrated is not only important for your body, but for your overall well-being as well. While it seems like a no-brainer for those who have a handle on their hydration, we understand the difficulty in starting a new routine. Staying properly hydrated plays an important role in your body’s ability to recover from injuries and alleviate pain. Schedule an appointment at a physical therapy clinic near you to recover from your injuries with a unique treatment plan designed to match your unique needs and goals.
- “How Much Water Do You Need to Stay Healthy?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Oct. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.
- Hannah. “The Importance of Water.” The Heart Foundation, 26 Apr. 2019, https://theheartfoundation.org/2019/03/08/the-importance-of-water/#:~:text=Keeping%20your%20body%20hydrated%20helps,chronic%20illnesses%2C%20children%20and%20athletes.
- “Circulatory System: Anatomy and Function.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21775-circulatory-system.
- B;, Murray. “Hydration and Physical Performance.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17921463/.
- Shaheen, Naila A, et al. “Public Knowledge of Dehydration and Fluid Intake Practices: Variation by Participants’ Characteristics.” BMC Public Health, BioMed Central, 5 Dec. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282244/.