It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or a recreational sports enthusiast, hydration is important for all of us. We should consume enough water not only during and after an exercise, but also before, which then allows us to use our muscles to their full capacity and not become exhausted. Water also helps us with regulating body temperature, protecting the spinal cord and supporting the joints. There is no single recommended amount of water for all of us to drink because that varies based on your posture, metabolism, how much and how easily you sweat, amongst other things. The best thing to do is to experiment with how much you drink and find your optimal balance. What also plays an important role in determining how much you should drink is the weather. If you live in a humid and hot environment you will need to drink differently than if you lived in a colder or less humid place.
It is also good to talk about sports drinks. If you are exercising for a longer period of time and consuming a lot of energy, sports drinks are a good way of increasing energy. However, be careful with what drinks you choose as some may contain a high volume of sugar and/or caffeine. Both sugar and caffeine are not ideal for your body, especially if serving portions are exceeded.
Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration, which means that you are losing (& sweating out) more water than you are consuming and that can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, increased heart beat and lack of sweating. You can easily tell if you need to drink more water by looking at your urine - if it is colourless or light yellow that indicates you are doing well, however, if your urine is dark yellow that means you are not providing a sufficient supply of water and should increase your intake. Your body will show signs that you should recognise to optimise your water intake. If you constantly feel thirsty that means you should increase water consumption and replace the lost fluids in time before you start feeling symptoms of dehydration. Hunger too, can be a sign of a lack of water, rather than a lack of food.
We also have to look at the other side of the scale and mention what can happen if you drink too much. Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when you consume too much water and your sodium levels drop very low, it can be referred to as water intoxication. There are a couple ways of how to increase your sodium levels should this situation occur; however, it is best to consult with a doctor. They might recommend medication for you to take in order to slowly increase sodium in your system or put you on a sodium IV. This is, however, rare.
So what is there to take away from this? It is highly important to drink enough water to maintain good health, but also watching our own bodies for different signs.