Water is absolutely without a doubt (in my opinion 😉 ) the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Up to 60% of the adult human body is made up of water so it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to keep our hydration levels up. Not only is it essential to health, it benefits your mind and body in so many ways.
One of the greatest things about water in the western world… It’s cheap! – you can get it straight out of the tap. If you live in an area where it doesn’t taste so great (like where I used to live in East London) then you can invest in a water filter jug (just fill it up and pop it in the fridge, then it’s waiting for you when you need it). The average water quality is reported at 99.96% for England and Wales, 99.91% in Scotland and 91.86% in Northern Ireland (water.org, 2017).
Drinking water before, during and after exercise…should I? …YES!
Water helps you regulate your body temperature, it lubricates your joints and helps transport nutrients around your body leading to increased performance. Without adequate hydration, you’re more susceptible to dizziness, cramps and increased muscle soreness.
Before – when and how much?
It’s a good idea to be sipping water regularly throughout the day, and one key thing to remember is by the time you feel thirsty, you’re likely already slightly dehydrated. Ensuring your hydration levels are topped up before you start a workout is essential to minimise the chance of feeling lightheaded or faint, ensuring you get the most out of your workout. In the 2 to 3 hours before exercise, aim to drink about 500ml of water to make sure you’re topped up.
Throughout a workout, there is an increase in your respiration rate (breathing) and you sweat more, meaning you’re losing more water during a workout than in day-to-day life so you need to keep topped up.
Sipping water regularly throughout your work out is not going to do you any harm, just don’t use it as a constant excuse for a break. A quick sip every 10/15minutes should be enough if you’ve prepared well and remained fully hydrated before your workout.
Rehydrating after your workout helps with recovery and flushes waste products from our muscles and joints which can help improve flexibility and reduce pain. Recovery times are thought to be reduced with adequate hydration.
9 other amazing things that water does for your body:
1. Helps digestion
Water helps with the breakdown of food so your body can absorb the nutrients.
2. Helps transport nutrients
Water helps deliver all those glorious essential nutrients from your carefully chosen foods, to the bits of your body that need them.
3. Help circulation
Water helps circulate the oxygen-filled red blood cells around the body this means that if you’re well hydrated, your heart won’t have to work so hard to pump blood around your body.
4. Helps maintain body temperature
Water has the ability to help maintain a constant body temperature, vital for ensuring proper function of all your organs (because the enzymes in our body work best when at 37°C).
5. Creates saliva
Although we don’t all want to be drooling all over the place, saliva is essential for keeping your mouth healthy. It helps keep your breath smelling fresh and keeps your teeth healthy too!
6. Remove impurities
A glass of the clear stuff – no, not vodka – water helps flush out impurities, leaving clearer skin.
7. Increases metabolism
Research suggests that drinking water can boost your metabolism by up to 30%. This is in part due to the thermogenic effect – the body having to use energy to heat the consumed water up to body temperature.
8. Increases satiety
Although water doesn’t stop hunger itself (after all, food is essential for function too) but it could reduce hunger cravings. It increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) so drinking water and eating foods with a high water content could lead to the consumption of fewer calories overall.
9. Keeps you young!
Water has great anti-ageing properties, drinking water plumps up the skin cells giving your skin a more youthful appearance.