Physical Fit: Dehydration, It’s not Just For Summertime

Dehydration concept.

Something has occurred to me recently… as in the last week because of some other incidents I have mentioned (i.e. nearly freezing to death in my own home). During the shivering and trying not to become a popsicle, I also realized that I managed to avoid drinking the recommended daily allowance of H2O. I am dehydrated.

Most people know that water is necessary for life. More necessary than food and less than breathing, and by that, I mean that you can go for a long time without food, less time without water, and we all know that depleting our bodies of oxygen for more than a few minutes will result in unpleasant consequences like unconsciousness, brain damage, organ failure, and death. That’s hardly earth shattering or genius level deduction. Most of us learned that in primary school to some extent.

Anyhow, not drinking sufficient water can lead to a lot of unpleasant things including skin issues, cracked lips, dental problems, halitosis, fatigue, muscle deterioration, headaches, digestive issues, and elimination difficulties (yes, I’m talking some potty problems). It is not a fun time, and of course, failure to hydrate properly can lead to the ultimate adverse effect… death.

dangers_of_dehydration

People do not realize that our bodies need water all the time. In fact, most people do not even know the actual amount that they need on a given day, and would most likely underestimate that amount. For example, based on my weight and age, I am supposed to consume 110 oz. of water every day. That is just with normal activity and average temperatures and humidity. That does not even take into account diet, medications, consuming alcohol and caffeine, activity levels, or extremes of weather.

On top of all of the negative impact of dehydration upon the body, lack of appropriate water intake can also negatively impact the fitness routine and weight loss goals. Dehydration can result in fatigue and general lack of productivity. Not drinking enough water can slow down your cardio and can even result in increased appetite due to the body’s attempts to boost energy. Staying hydrated can decrease overeating, and boost energy levels. Maintaining proper levels of hydration can also ensure that the body is using the food and nutrients consumed in the most efficient way.

For me, it is so much easier to stay hydrated in the summer. I know that is counterintuitive, but it is true. During the summer, I have no trouble consuming a cool refreshing beverage. I frequently keep a large container of water near at hand and sip on it continually through the day. In the colder weather, however, I find it less automatic to continually drink my water throughout the day, and in truly frigid temperatures, I find it almost impossible to make myself drink enough of the cool water that drops my core temperatures even lower.

It is, however, just as important to stay hydrated in winter. Keeping appropriate hydration allows the body better temperature regulation, and dehydration can contribute to hypothermia. Also, many heating systems tend to dry out the air inside homes and the moisture in the body as well, chapping the skin and drying nasal passages and mouth preventing the body from resisting environmental allergens and other contaminants.

I must remember to drink my daily allotment of water. I also need to remember that by the time that my brain registers that I am thirsty, I am already depleted in my fluids. I have been considering different ways I can get appropriate hydration during the chilly months. My beloved coffee will not suffice as caffeine acts as a diuretic on the system. Though I will do my best to drink water, I will admit that it is more difficult, and I want to mix things up a bit and include a warm alternative. Non-caffeinated hot teas can help with hydration and provide an alternative to cool water. I expect that awareness is probably the greatest asset to my efforts, but it is decidedly important for my continued health to stay hydrated. Contrary to commercials you may have seen, it’s probably not a good idea to “stay thirsty, my friends.”

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