essential core fitness for living

Drink more water for a strong heart

Drinking more water may reduce the risk of heart failure

If you forget to bring a water bottle to work, you are not alone. I have clients that always come to their workouts with water, and clients that never do. There’s no definitive answer as to how much water you need, but many of us aren’t drinking enough of it. While guidelines vary, generally women need between six to eight cups, and men need approximately eight to 12 cups. It depends on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.

Water makes up approximately 50-70% of our body weight. It keeps our temperatures normal, cushions joints, protects our spinal cord, flushes bacteria from the bladder and carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Getting enough fluids also normalizes blood pressure and stabilizes the heart. It’s important to stay hydrated, as everyday we lose water through breathing, sweating and peeing.

New studies by researchers at the National Institute of Health suggest that staying well hydrated not only supports essential health, but may also reduce the risk of heart failure or long-term risks for heart disease. Heart failure is a chronic condition that happens when the heart does not pump enough blood for the body’s needs.

Approximately 11,814 healthy adults were in the final study. Of those, 11.56% later developed heart failure. To assess possible links with hydration, researchers analyzed levels of serum sodium. Serum sodium increases as the body’s fluid levels drop, and helped identify older adults with an increased risk of developing either heart failure or left ventricular hypertrophy, an enlargement and thickening of the heart. Higher serum-sodium levels at middle age showed a 102% increased risk for left ventricular hypertrophy and a 54% increased risk for heart failure.

All beverages, even coffee or alcohol, contribute to hydration. A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report notes that it is a myth that caffeinated drinks or alcohol are dehydrating because they make you urinate. They do, but over the course of a day, the water from these beverages still lead to a net positive contribution to total fluid intake.

Of course, water is still the best option, as sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and inflammation. Caffeine, for some, can give you the jitters or keep you from sleeping. And alcohol intake, research suggests, should be limited to one drink per day for women, and one-to-two drinks per day for men.

You can also get fluids from water-rich foods, such as salads and fruit. Aim to have water throughout the day and water at each meal, as well as socially.

Remember that thirst is not an indicator of hydration. Signs that you are dehydrated are less frequent urination, dark-colored pee, fatigue, confusion or dizziness. Drink for health.

Published April, 23, 2022 in the Idaho Mountain Express

Beat the heat with hydration

    Water is essential for life, as it makes up 60 percent of the average person’s bodyweight. Before we go on and talk about the importance of hydration in the summer, and how to monitor your hydration status, go ahead and grab a big glass of water, because if you’re like me, always forgetting to bring my water bottle to work, you might be dehydrated.

    Looking at urine color is the quickest way to monitor hydration. Clear to light yellow color indicates adequate hydration, while darker colors, as in the doc’s hued color charts, indicates dehydration. Keep in mind that certain vitamins and supplements can make the color of urine not representative of hydration level. For example, high doses of vitamin B can cause neon yellow pee, or vitamin C or riboflavin that contain carotene can cause yellow to orange colors.

 This year’s three-week race had many days over 86 degrees, and starting and ending the day hydrated was key. With all the time spent outside this summer, it is important to do the same. You want to have adequate hydration throughout the day—make it a habit throughout the day and not just before or after exercise.

    On any given hot day, the heat and dry conditions contribute to the water our bodies lose and needs to be replaced. A common recommendation regarding how much water you should drink is eight eight-ounce cups a day. That’s easy to remember, and a reasonable goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, everyone is different, and the actual amount of water needed depends on a number of factors, such as heat and humidity, and individual differences, including sweat rate, body mass and exercise intensity and duration.

    Signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dry skin
  • Urine darker than normal

    Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you. If you have a water bottle labeled with volume measurements, put rubber bands around the bottom of it. Every time you finish a bottle, slide the rubber band to the top to help remind you to drink throughout the day. Remember also that all foods have some water in them, especially summer fruit and vegetables. What a good way to stay healthy and hydrated!

Printed in the Idaho Mountain Express August 3, 2018

Water-Plain Good Sense

Nothing can be plainer than water, yet it is a vital source of life. It is an essential nutrient for us, and essential for all living things. Like the earths surface, our bodies are composed of roughly 60 to 70 per cent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs and brain are composed of 75%, 70% and 90% water respectively. We need water to regulate  temperature  and to provide the means  for nutrients to travel to our organs. Water also transports oxygen to our cells, removes waste, and protects our joints.  Yet many of us aren’t drinking enough fluids to keep us adequately hydrated. Although it makes sense that you would be thirsty if you needed water, thirst isn’t an indicator of hydration. By that time, lethargy, headaches, muscle cramps, or diminished performance are all warning signs that you might be mildly dehydrated.

Each day we need to replace 2.4 liters of water that we lose from breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. Broken down, we pee approximately 6.3 cups a day, plus another 4 cups of water through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. We can easily get 20% of the water we need through the food we eat. Fruits, for example, have more water than something dry like pretzels. The other 80% of fluid that you need comes from what you drink, and a little more than 8 cups, along with the food that you eat, will typically replace your lost fluids. In general, 8-9 cups is a good guideline, though variables such as your health, where you live and how active you are may vary person to person. A simple way to tell if you are dehydrated is that you don’t have to get up in the night to pee. ( Color should be clear )

Drink more water

I’ve always thought the title “drink more water” would be a no-brainer bestseller. Plain water fills you up. Researchers at Virginia Tech recently finished a 12 week study of 2 groups of people on the same diet. The only difference was that one group was told to drink 2 cups of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is no surprise that at the end of the study the water drinkers lost 30% more weight: 16 pounds to the 11 pound loss of the non-drinkers. The choices of waters with electrolytes, vitamins, sodium or caffeine is vast, and unless you are exercising for more than an hour, tap water, bottled or sparkling water is preferable, and slightly chilled, for increasing absorption. If you don’t really like water, try adding a squeeze of lime, lemon   or fruit slices to make it more palatable.

If you like plain brewed coffee, don’t worry. Once considered questionable for your health, coffee is not as much a diuretic as once thought. It is, if you drink more than 4 cups a day, but recent research shows that not only does it provide liquid, but valuable antioxidants as well. If you regularly consume caffeine the body will regulate itself to any diuretic effect .If you are sensitive to caffeine, as it is a nervous system stimulant, there is a vast array of herbal teas, many with soothing and healing properties. Again, water is the probably the best, inexpensive and readily available choice for hydration.

As the temperatures drop this fall, and you stay active, remember to drink at least 2 cups of fluid approximately 2 hours before you exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink at least half a cup of water every 15 minutes during exercise. Whether you’re in spin class, hiking or practicing a vinyasa flow sequence, also drink another 2 cups of fluid for every pound you lose during exercise. A lot of water, I know, but it is the stuff of life. A simple prescription for a  happy healthy hydrated life.

Connie Aronson is American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health and Fitness Specialist , currently in the Mediterranean Sea enjoying the water.