Patti Sciulli on May 5, 2017
It’s Drinking Water Week — a good time to remind us of the many, many benefits of drinking water. Here are some of the benefits of staying hydrated from Patti Sciulli, our JCC expert on fitness and building a lifelong healthy habits:
- Improved digestion: Every system in the body requires water to function properly. Water helps distribute the nutrients we consume, making the vitamins and minerals available throughout the body. It also helps us digest certain fibers and breaks down food more efficiently.
- Assists with weight loss: Drinking water isn’t going to help you start shedding pounds, but it does have an impact on weight loss. Some studies have concluded that the mere act of drinking water gets your metabolism going, resulting in more calories burned while your body is at rest.
- Kids need water, too! When your kids say they’re hungry, they may actually be thirsty. Drinking water helps us to feel full. Also, with all of the calories and sugars added to soda, juice, sports drinks, drinking plain water can help keep the pounds off. The diseases associated with obesity, such as Type 2 Diabetes, are difficult to treat. They are much easier to prevent. More and more children are becoming obese, which is due in part to genetics, but also lifestyle choices. Tell your kids that the body needs water to complete its basic tasks, like creating saliva, digesting food, maintaining a proper body temperature and transporting nutrients.
- Senior citizens are at particular risk for dehydration because their kidney function has diminished to some degree. Side effects for seniors who do not drink enough water, however, extend far beyond dehydration. Even short-term water deprivation has been known to cause chronic pain. Over time, the lack of water causes loss of muscle tone, excess weight gain, slow metabolism, increased toxicity and even organ failure. Other negative side effects include arthritis, dry skin, migraines, hypertension, digestive complications and persistent constipation.
- Your ability to perform athletically can decline with a very small amount of dehydration. Just losing 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by 25%. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, drinking water during exercise is essential if you want to get the most out of your workout and feel good while you’re doing it. A well-hydrated athlete feels stronger and can work out longer and more efficiently. The heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the body, and oxygen and nutrients can be transported more efficiently to the muscles you’re working during exercise. This means you’re going to have more energy and the same exercises you struggled with when dehydrated will seem much easier.
So how much should you drink? Many people find it difficult to work in 8-12 cups of water into their daily schedule (more if you’re exercising and need to replenish). However, this number isn’t strictly what you’re sipping from your water bottle throughout the day. It also counts the water you’re getting from all the foods and beverages you consume. Fruits, vegetables, yogurt, soups, practically everything has water in it and helps trim down your overall number.
Bottom line…. try to keep water around. Make it your go-to beverage. Always quench your thirst, and drink water with as many meals as you can to make sure you’re staying hydrated.