The 411 on H20

Water. It’s the one ‘supplement’ out there guaranteed to improve performance and flexibility, aid metabolism and make you sleep better. And that’s just the short list of benefits that come from ensuring that you have an adequate supply of water in your body.

I can’t stress the importance of proper hydration enough. Just ask my girlfriend, who can attest to the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for proper hydration. Whenever I hear someone complain about discomfort, from headaches to sore muscles, itchy skin or eyes, my first instinct is to ask, how much water have you drank today?

I must be terrible to live with, but it is true. There is a mountain of evidence to suggest that nearly every physiological process benefits from drinking a sufficient amount of water.  So, how do we know if we are getting enough water each day? There is no hard and fast rule about this as every person is different, weather conditions aren’t static, and activity levels can vary greatly, but one simple way to determine your level of hydration is to observe your urine. If your urine is pale in colour (and you haven’t been crushing espresso, or shots of vodka all day) you’re probably well hydrated. Similarly, if you’re urinating every two to four hours you are likely consuming enough water.

When it comes to exercising, especially in the heat of summer, there are other ways to gauge if you’re consuming enough liquid. Some signs that you’re in need of fluids:

•You’re having trouble controlling your temperature, i.e. you feel hot and stay hot.

•You have an elevated heart rate and your breathing is excessively laboured (above what is normal for the workload).

In our quest for balance in our bodies, there are a couple things to keep in mind.  For one, water isn’t the only source of water.  Fruits and vegetables contain water and consuming them regularly contributes to hydration.

It’s also important to recognize when water may not be enough to keep you in good stead. If you are putting yourself through a long bout of activity, especially in the sun, you may want to supplement with electrolytes. The more you sweat and the longer you sweat the more your body needs to replace the essential minerals that keep the body working properly.  Add an electrolyte powder to your water, or switch your water for a sports drink in those cases.

As the summer heats up and the workouts only intensify make sure you give water, and your water-dense body (the average adult’s body is between 60 to 70 percent water), the respect it deserves!


Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner of Alchemy CrossFit.

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