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The Importance of Hydration

The Importance of Hydration

The Importance of Hydration

By

Beth Pernerewski

For years, I’ve read that it’s important to drink 64 oz. of water a day. It always struck me as a ridiculous amount of water to consume in a day. I heard a lot about how it’s great for the skin and your face will have a healthy glow from drinking that much water. But could it really make that much of a difference? And since I never cared that much about a “healthy glow” I never went out of my way to drink that much water. Sure, I would consume beverages during the day, and that must be enough, right?

A few years ago, I decided to try drinking more water. Part of the reason I started drinking water was trying to get in more steps daily and I figured walking to the bathroom would help with steps. (It’s amazing how one decent habit can lead to others.) My plan was to drink 32 oz. of water before lunch and another 32 oz. in the afternoon after lunch. It helped to have a clear plan and touch points throughout the day to see how well I was doing; I could make sure I was on track when I took my lunch break. I got used to drinking the water pretty quickly and learned that I could have half unflavored but needed to flavor the rest, so I didn’t get completely bored. I’ll admit, I didn’t see a big difference in how I felt or looked (I didn’t see the healthy glow) nor did my lips get any less chapped. (As a kid my brother told me if I drank enough water I wouldn’t need as much lip balm.)

It took changing my habit to realize the benefit I was getting from the water consumption. My daily routine changed, and I stopped drinking as much water each day. It took a couple of weeks for me to realize that I felt more lethargic and felt a little dehydrated. I was thirsty all the time so clearly my body has gotten used to the water consumption. And I started getting headaches, which would go away when I drank more water. The change I found most interesting came when I got a massage. In the past, at the end of a massage, the masseuse would tell me to drink plenty of water the rest of the day, but I never did. And I was sore the day after a massage. The last massage I got I drank a good amount of water afterward and the next day I was not sore at all. I knew my muscles had been worked but overall I felt great. 

I’m certainly not saying each person needs to drink 64 oz. of water a day to stay adequately hydrated. But for me it helped to have a goal to work toward and it certainly got me drinking more water than I had in the past. A person can get water throughout the day from various sources, such as morning coffee or tea with lunch, and there is water in the foods we eat, like oranges or watermelon. But straight water is a great, no calorie option for staying well hydrated throughout the day. It is possible to drink too much water, removing too much sodium from the body, but that problem is seen mostly in people who train for endurance sports.

It took me a long time to realize the health benefits of water but it’s never too late to start a good habit! For more information on hydration, you can read The Quest for Hydration on WebMD.