Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer is Here! The Importance of Staying Well Hydrated

Summertime is the perfect time of the year to take your fitness routine outside. Fresh air, open skies, and a variety of scenery make for an enjoyable exercise experience. But as the temperature begins to rise, it’s critically important to make sure your hydration levels allow for a productive and healthy workout.

Yes, I know, there’s nothing sexy about drinking water. But realize that it’s impossible for your body to lose excess fat if you’re not drinking enough. Your body is made up of over 70% water, making consuming it in sufficient quantities a crucial, yet simple component to achieving your fitness and/or weight loss goals.

Water plays several key roles during exercise and the fat loss process. Any time you burn stored body fat for fuel, waste by- products are created and introduced into your blood stream. By simply drinking a bottle of water during your workout you begin the process of flushing out and removing excess waste by-products.

Water is also very important for muscular contractions. Without the right water balance, your muscles can’t contract at normal intensity levels, leading to poor performance and a decrease in the effectiveness of your workouts.

For example, a drop in body water volume of a mere 1% can cause a reduction in performance of over 10%. That means you’ll have to exert yourself much harder during a workout to achieve the same results had you been sufficiently hydrated.

Also, water promotes a thermogenic state, which essentially increases your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism, the more calories and fat your body has the potential to use effectively throughout the day.

And finally, water helps reduce the soreness you feel after an intense bout of exercise. Muscular contractions (like those you experience during exercise) stimulate the release of a chemical called hydroxyproline from the connective tissues and muscle cells. This chemical is very irritating to the nerve endings and is the direct cause of delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness you feel the day or two after you workout). Your body will naturally bind this chemical and remove it, if well hydrated, both during and after exercise, and will speed the process of recovery dramatically.

How Much Water?

While the old, but unsubstantiated rule of 8 glasses per day has held up just fine, multiplying your weight by the number .55 would provide a more accurate estimate of the number of ounces of water an exerciser should consume in a day. If you're in a hot environment all day, for example working outdoors, you should make a concerted effort to increase that number a bit further. I suggest you always have water with you. A bottle of spring water should be fine. Sipping it throughout the day, even if you are not experiencing thirst, can act as a valuable step in making sure you’re well hydrated.

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