FITNESS FORUM: We should all be drinking more water

By Christine Donato

 

Every single year, on Jan. 31, I plan out my New Year’s Resolutions for the year ahead. Some are more general changes I want to make, like this year’s goal to “Limit Household Waste,” while others are purely aspirational, such as 2018’s dream to “Reduce Student Loan Debt.” Without a doubt, the goal that shows up year after year is the one and only “Drink More Water.”

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably vowed at one point or another to drink more water, or perhaps you’re one of those superwomen who actually gets her eight, 8-oz glasses of water every day — if so, what’s your secret? Seriously.

Either way, most of us agree that drinking more water is something we should all be striving for, so why do I still find myself going days subsisting on only coffee?

What happens to the body if it’s not properly hydrated, and how does it affect performance? Well, it turns out that even minimal levels of dehydration during exercise, as well as other forms of physical exertion, can cause symptoms like “reduced endurance, increased fatigue, altered thermoregulatory capability, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort.” The next time you hit the gym, try hydrating before, during and after your workout, and see if it makes a difference.

Even when we’re not at the gym, dehydration may still play a role in our cognitive performance, especially when it comes to short-term memory impairment. This is particularly worrisome in children and the elderly, but even for adults, reaching for a glass of water instead of yet another coffee or energy drink may be the key to better focus at work.

In the aptly titled Women’s Health article “Once And For All∫ How Much Water Do I Have To Drink Each Day?” Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD, explains that, for the average adult, eight ounces of water eight times a day is a good rule of thumb. However, your exact needs may vary depending on your circumstances. For example, exercise, living in high altitudes, and those who may be sick, breastfeeding or pregnant will most likely need to increase their overall water intake. If you’re curious how much water you should be drinking daily, it’s best to consult a physician or dietician for a recommendation. Be careful not to go overboard, though, as it is actually possible to drink too much water, which “can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium through blood dilution, known as hyponatremia.”

Now we know that drinking 64 ounces of water a day, on average, is very necessary for our overall health and wellness, but is all water created equally? I’ve often been told that warm water is better for you, but I absolutely despise drinking room temperature water. It is the absolute least refreshing way to quench your thirst. Surely it’s just some old wives’ tale, right?

Wrong, much to my dismay. It turns out that drinking warm water is better for you, and drinking hot water might be even better still . Hot water offers a myriad of health benefits for the body, especially when it comes to digestion, circulation, and has even been shown to ease congestion in those suffering from a respiratory tract infection.

Drinking hot water for better digestion isn’t a new concept either, as many cultures believe that drinking hot water is good for the body’s health. In Ayurvedic medicine, one should drink hot water in the morning and evening, while in Italy, there is the popular drink consisting of hot water and lemon peel, known as a canarino . Both of these practices are intended to help the body digest. However, this doesn’t mean those of us who enjoy drinking cold water have to give it up quite yet. Drinking any temperature water throughout the day will increase energy levels and lower food cravings, as more often than not we tend to mistake thirst for hunger.

As for me, I’m not going to stop keeping my Brita in the fridge, but perhaps incorporating hot water into my day wouldn’t be such a terrible idea either. We’ll consider it a compromise.

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