The importance of staying hydrated

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Water performs endless functions that keep your body healthy and in good condition, and your daily intake of water can determine your overall well being. Drinking water is often neglected by many athletes, although it is very important to hydrate before, after and during a work-out. In this article we are going to show you a few reasons why you should really pay attention to drinking enough water.

Between 50% and 70% of the human body is made up of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, bad performance and slow recovery from your workouts. Most people do not feel when their body is starting to dehydrate.

Thirst is the first recognizable symptom of dehydration. Many people make a mistake here by drinking soda’s or caffeine based energy drinks, which will just dehydrate you even more.

Depending on our daily activity (work, exercise, sleep, ...) we need between 2.0 and 3.0 litres of water for our body to work properly. During exercise we lose about 0.5 – 1 litre of water each hour depending on our body size and perspiration rate.

Symptoms of dehydration

Light dehydration can be solved in a relatively short amount of time by stopping your work-out, avoiding the sun and drinking plenty of water.

Symptoms of light dehydration:

  • Fatigued feeling when sleep, food and digestion is normal
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Dark yellow colored urine with a strong  smell. Try to keep your urine as clear as possible
  • A dry mouth and throat

Severe dehydration should be treated by a doctor.

Symptoms of severe dehydration:

  • Delirium
  • Painful urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle spasms

The benefits of staying hydrated:

  • Helps to build and maintain your muscles

Drinking enough water will enable your muscles to work harder and longer before you will feel tired. This is because water carries oxygen to the cells of your body, including those of your muscles. Most people wake up dehydrated caused by the loss of water during the night. Try to make a fist in the morning and you will notice that you have less strength as during the day. One of the reasons is a lack of oxygen in the muscles due to dehydration.

  • Keeps you sharp

Dehydration can decrease your cognitive function. In order for your brain to work at an optimum level you need a lot of oxygen. Water helps to carry around oxygen in the body and to the brain. So drinking plenty of water helps to give the brain the oxygen it needs to support the nerve functions.

  • Good for the joints

The joints of an athlete and more specifically climbers are under heavy stress when climbing a hard boulder problem (fingers, shoulders, ...). Water keeps the joints strong, healthy and lubricated.

  • Weight loss

Water suppresses your appetite, therefore you will eat less when you drink plenty of water. If you are dehydrated your liver will be forced to help the kidneys detoxify your body. When you drink enough water the kidneys don’t need any extra help and the liver can be used to metabolize stored fat better. Drinking water helps to remove toxins (waste products) from your body.

  • Heat regulation

Water gives our body the capacity to help limit changes in body temperature in a warm or a cold environment. Water allows the body to release heat when its temperature is to high . The body begins to sweat, and the evaporation of water from the skin surface very efficiently cools the body down.

  • Keeps your tendons elastic

The tendons in the body of a climber go through an extreme amount of strain. It is therefore very important that they stay elastic by drinking enough water. Especially the tendons in the fingers and arms undergo severe stress. Drinking enough water helps to reduce injuries.

How much to drink and when

First of all, start your day with drinking two glasses of water. When you sleep you lose water through perspiration. It’s important to start your day with water to re-hydrate your body as fast as possible.

During the day, drink up to 2 litres of water (divided over the day, not all at once), but on a hot day this can easily run op to 3 or even 4 litres.

During exercise you lose between 0,5 and 1 litre of water per hour. Be sure you refill this during and after your work-out. Prepare your run by drinking enough water 2 hours before you start running and refill during the 2 hours after your work-out.

If you don’t re-hydrate after your work-out your recovery process will be affected in the following hours and days.

Staying hydrated for improved health and muscle recovery is too important to ignore.