We all know a water bore who claims they can't survive an hour unless they’ve got a bottle of the stuff strapped to them and are downing three litres of liquid a day. For the rest of us though, staying hydrated can be a bit a challenge – especially when you’re headless-chicken busy, or don’t even feel that thirsty. Hands-up who reaches lunchtime with barely a sip of the wet stuff? Hmm, we thought so.
Sorry in advance to sound like your mum, but staying hydrated is super-important, even more so in the summer or when working out. It isn’t called water of life for nothing, right? So if you need a refresh on the benefits of hydration, check out these reasons to reach for the water bottle.
Spot the signs
Mild dehydration happens when we lose about 1% of our body weight due to a lack of water, or water loss through heat or exercise. But it's not just thirst that tells us we need more water. Other tell-tale signs of dehydration can include constipation, a dry, sticky mouth, few or no tears when crying, headaches, muscle tiredness and sleepiness.
You know that 3pm foggy-brain slump that you get at your desk? Before you reach for a chocolate pick-me-up, ask yourself if you’re simply thirsty instead. Our brains are about 70% water and being dehydrated can affect short-term memory, arithmetic efficiency, attention and coordination. Trust us, getting a pay-rise and being thirsty do not go hand-in-hand.
And it’s not just work performance that can be affected, our moods can majorly suffer too. In one study of young women, it showed that dehydration alone led to poor mood, reduced concentration and more frequent headaches. That translates to cranky AF.
Fluids for fitness
If you go for a run and find yourself stopping to sink a gallon of water because you’re dying of thirst, you’re doing it all wrong. Being hydrated before you start exercise is crucial so that you don’t get cramps. When you’re actually getting down to your workout, sip water slowly every 20 minutes and continue to hydrate when you’ve finished and post-shower. For mild to moderate exercise including swimming, golf and walking, and for any physical activity lasting less than 1 hour, water will rehydrate you adequately. Isotonic drinks may be appropriate if you are carrying out high-intensity physical activity (such as marathon running, competitive cycling or tennis) for more than 1 hour.
Your environment counts
It isn’t just limiting fluids, or exercising excessively that can lead to dehydration. Air con units can speed up moisture evaporation from our skin and lungs, leading to water losses from the body. Or, if you regularly hang out in a warm environment (basically anyone who works in a greenhouse or nightclub then) you’ll probably perspire more than someone who spends the day in a library and will, therefore, need to drink more water.
Check your wee
We all know that having a looksie at your wee colour is the easiest way to see if you’re hydrated enough, but did you know there’s an actual chart for the job? For real. The 8-colour scale (created by Dr Lawerence Armstrong) ranges from pale yellow, the colour of straw, (number 1) to a brownish green colour (number 8). If your wee colour matches numbers 1-3 on the chart you are well hydrated, but if it looks more like matches number 7 or darker you’re really dehydrated.