Hydrate! Why It's Important and How to Get It Done
By Mary Lambkin
Given the overflow of water fountains, water bottles, hydration vests, water belts, cups and other drinking accessories available you'd think water was the best option around. News flash: It actually is! But how much water is too much water — or enough water?
Research supported by the National Institutes of Health shows that water can help prevent disease (especially when consumed instead of soft drinks) and flush out toxins. Additionally, proper hydration can provide other benefits like better-looking skin and an improved metabolism.
Here's how to stay hydrated and make sense of the H2O info overload.
How Much Water Do You Actually Need?
According to the National Academy of Sciences, adult women should aim to drink about 11 cups of water per day and men need about 15 1/2 cups. That's a lot! But before you start chugging water from a gallon-sized jug, remember that these guidelines include all water consumed — including water in foods like fruits and veggies. Expand your diet to include leafy greens and fresh fruits and start and end each meal with a cup of water and feel your hydration levels rise!
What's the Best Way to Drink It?
When it comes to the question "how much water is too much water," marketers seem to think there's no such thing as a limit. Stores are stocked with dozens of hydration contraptions including bottles, backpacks, thermoses, and belts while "premium water" continues to saturate the market. "Local ice" has even been a thing. Who knew that drinking water could be so complicated? Don't let the thought of sipping water stress you out. Instead, consider these tips:
- Fit your lifestyle: Walk through a typical day in your life and see where and how you can fit water into it. For example, if you take public transport to work every day, you'll want a water bottle that can fit in your bag and seals tightly. If you drive to work, search for a bottle or cup that will fit your cup holder.
- "Eat" water: Sneak in a few extra ounces of water with some liquid-rich foods. Popular choices include strawberries, honeydew, bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. Did you know that 92 percent of a watermelon is made of water? In a single two-cup serving, you'll be able to fill up on about nine ounces of water (plus plenty of Vitamins A and C). Pack a bag of fruits and veggies as a pre-workout snack and replace your nightly bowl of ice cream with a cup of berries instead.
- Make it fun!: Try starting a workplace challenge to see which side of your office can empty their water cooler first. Get yourself a quart-sized drinking cup and try to finish the whole thing before lunch. Set timers on your phone, or assign yourself a "water buddy" to keep you on track. A little bit of competition can help you crush your water-drinking goals!
- Get Into a Flow: Keep the hydration hype going with water "recipes." Throw in a couple of lemon slices for a tangy twist, or add a few leaves of basil to make herby H2O. Stir in flavored ice cubes to stay refreshed during a sweaty workout, and recover afterward with a cup of hot herbal tea.
Once you start seeing water as a blank slate for fun flavors, you may find that you no longer crave sodas and juices. The healthy habit can benefit you in many ways, including an improved complexion and enhanced sense of overall well-being. Drink up!
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.