Summer is officially here and with it, temperatures are rising to sweltering levels. Heat wave warnings that began in the spring promise to stick around and worsen throughout the season. Staying hydrated is becoming more important than ever as our bodies work harder to stay cool in the stifling heat.
Couple the heat with the increase in outdoor activities that naturally occurs during this time of year and you have a recipe for dehydration that can sneak up on you, impacting your movement practice and your ability to handle everyday responsibilities in negative ways.
Dehydration is the problem and water is the solution. But why is hydration so incredibly important and what can you gain from intentionally staying hydrated throughout the hot months? Read on to learn some surprising symptoms that come from being poorly hydrated and a host of positive benefits you can expect when you keep the water flowing.
Sneaky and Surprising Symptoms of Dehydration
We all know the feeling of being impossibly thirsty. Anyone who has flown a few hours with nothing more than a thimble-sized cup of H20 to quench their craving knows exactly what that feels like. Although the feeling of being thirsty is certainly unpleasant, it’s actually more pressing than that. Thirst is our body’s way of telling us that we are already dehydrated. We can expect some sneaky and surprising symptoms to follow.
How does dehydration affect our minds and bodies?
- Impairs our mood
- Impacts concentration
- Weakens our memory
- Decreases problem-solving skills
- Makes us irritable
- Flares up anxiety
- Increases frequency and longevity of headaches
- Decreases coordination
- Feelings of sluggishness and fatigue
- Foul-smelling breath
- Intensifies sugar cravings
Let’s just go out on a limb here and assume that of all the feels you want to experience this summer, not a single one of them is shown on that list. Those undesirable implications can come on hard and strong, seemingly out of nowhere, in less time than you might think.
In fact, research has shown that just one hour of moderate activity in 80℉/26℃ can lead to a loss of 2 pounds of water through sweating. That is quite enough fluid loss to become dehydrated and many locations are seeing temps that far exceed 80℉/26℃.
Benefits of Staying Fully Hydrated
See that list of things up there that none of us want? Flip the script on them and you will start to get a sense of all the goodness that awaits a fully hydrated body and mind. On top of improved mood, energy levels, focus, memory and more, hydration has some other positive consequences that are somewhat surprising, too.
- Muscles are made up of 80% water. When they are fully hydrated, they can work harder, longer with more ease.
- Drinking plenty of water can increase your metabolism AND help you avoid overeating when consumed before meals.
- If you drink alcohol, drinking water between drinks that contain alcohol and drinking water before bed can help you lessen the dreaded hangover.
- Hydration helps your digestive system eliminate waste more effectively.
- Staying hydrated makes sweat less stinky because it will have a higher ratio of water to funk.
- It helps keep certain sexy areas well lubricated for more enjoyable bedroom experiences.
- Gives your skin that dewy glow, the natural way.
How Much Water is Enough Water to Stay Hydrated?
By now you may be wondering how much water you really need to drink to stay fully hydrated. There are varying opinions on this subject but the bottom line is that it changes day to day based on a variety of factors. The more fluids you lose through sweat, the more water you will need to replenish and maintain hydration.
It’s worth mentioning that you also lose electrolytes through sweat. Supplementing with high quality, low- or no-sugar electrolyte packets are a good idea when you push your body harder than usual, drink alcohol, or spend a significant amount of time in high heat.
Before you head out on that hike, join your favorite group fitness class, or roll out your towel alongside the neighborhood pool, be sure you bring a water bottle and drink it up! Your body and mind will thank you with a slew of benefits that impact your movement practice and your daily life.