Hydration and Why it’s Important!
Hydration for our body is absolutely essential – as humans, we are made up of a high percentage of water and any drop in that level can affect our performance, recovery and day to day life. To begin to gain an understanding of how important hydration is - let’s take a look at the numbers involved:
- Up to 60% of the adult human body is water
- The brain and heart are 73% water
- Lungs are 83% water
- Skin contains 64% water
- Muscles and the kidneys have the highest amount of water at 79%
- Although being solid and dense – our bones contain 31% water
- Blood 92% water
- Liver 85% water
(H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158)
With water having such a high presence in all of our tissues and organs throughout the body, dehydration at only 2% can have significant performance effects, both physically and mentally. It’s important to hydrate before, during and after exercise and on a day to day basis even if you aren’t exercising. Below are 4 reasons why you should be hydrating correctly!
1. Improve Your Energy Levels!
When you are dehydrated, one of the most common symptoms is tiredness and feeling lethargic. This is due to reduced blood volume – which results in your heart having to work harder to deliver blood which is oxygen and nutrient rich to fuel your body. Hydrate properly to keep your blood volume at a good level and your energy levels on point.
Replenishing fluids after a workout is essential to optimise your recovery. This is due to how it helps your heart rate recover - which is one of the main indicators of how your body rests and repairs – hence why there are a lot of heart rate monitors built in to wearable tech which help to calculate your recovery. A simple test to see if your body has recovered from a hard workout is measuring your resting heart rate immediately upon waking the next day – if it is 10% over your resting heart rate – you may not have fully recovered. Drink enough water and electrolyte post session to help your heart rate and blood volume recover so you are in tip top shape for that next session.
Another essential part of recovery is how you fuel your body after a workout – quality protein and replenishment of glycogen stores are recommended. Good nutrition forms one of the cornerstones of athletic performance - water and hydration levels are key to good digestion as you need adequate levels to aid saliva production which helps to break down your food and aid nutrient absorption. It’s also difficult to eat with a dry mouth….
4. Muscle Repair / Injury
Being dehydrated affects the process which helps us to repair and build muscle. Once our muscles have been broken down by exercise and the repair process begins (protein synthesis) and if we are not correctly hydrated this can slow and hinder the process. This will also affect your overall recovery and can also increase chances of injury. If muscles and tendons haven’t recovered properly or poorly – this puts them at risk of being injured in the next session of exercise.
During isolation you may be finding yourself exercising more to pass the time with your daily walk and home workouts – it’s a great time to improve your hydration habits. Typically 2 litres of fluid per day is recommended but you will need more if exercising. Electrolyte tablets or an isotonic sports drink are also recommended to replenish minerals that your body loses during exercise which are key to muscle function and avoiding cramp.