It’s summertime, and these amazing sunny days are excellent for getting out, being active, and generally enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It’s also hot! Which means we sweat more, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
The dehydrating effect of summer fun bring me a higher volume of massage clients with complaints of headaches, muscle cramps, and digestive issues. Hydrating our bodies is vital when it comes to flushing out toxins, maintaining digestive health, transporting nutrients to our cells, and lubricating connective tissues and muscles. Proper hydration is also linked to reducing the severity of some chronic diseases and conditions, such as hypertension, constipation, urinary tract infections, and heart disease. It’s a key factor in cognitive function as well! Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can affect memory, concentration, and alertness. Harvard Health also notes that our ability to detect our own thirst wanes as we get older, so it is important to create a regimen around hydration.
So what can you do to stay on top of hydration? The following is a list of answers to common questions I have encountered in my massage practice.
How much water should I drink?
The level of hydration required varies depending upon your level of daily activity. Most credible experts recommend between 30 and 64 ounces per day. If you are more active, typically that means you need to hydrate more, and more frequently.
How often should I drink water?
Keep water nearby you at work, at home, or outdoors, and drink it throughout the day. This provides your body with hydration at regular intervals. Avoid drinking large quantities in one sitting, as this can cause abdominal discomfort, dizziness, and other maladies.
Does it have to be boring old water?
While plain water should be a part of your hydration regimen, water-rich foods such as fruits and salads are also an excellent way to hydrate. Other beverages such as sodas and coffee also contain water, but it is important to note that they often contain other ingredients, such as caffeine, sugar, sodium, and preservatives, that can have adverse effects on our bodies when consumed in excess.
But there’s water in beer, right?
Well, yes. But beer and other such intoxicating beverages contain alcohol, an extremely dehydrating substance that counteracts any hydrating effects you might be trying to get from that beer. If you are planning on an evening of libations and debauchery, be sure to drink water prior to and during your good-timing. And never, ever, drink and drive. Not even to go buy a bottle of water.
Creating a daily ritual around water intake has personally helped me to keep up with hydration. I start off every day with a glass of water. I keep water with me at work at all times, and whenever I switch tasks or take a break, I go for the water. I make sure to drink a glass of water prior to any physical activities, and always drink water throughout the duration of a hike or outdoor adventure.
While it may seem like there is no argument against drinking water, there are some cases in which excessive hydration can negatively affect your electrolyte balance or have adverse effects with certain medications. Be sure to check in with your physician about your hydration levels if you are taking any prescription medications.
Licensed Massage Therapist in Portland, Oregon