Water is the cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle. The advantages are many and there are no side affects, so when so much else in the personal health care realm can seem murky, it’s something that almost all health experts and physicians agree on — drink your water!
That said, the answers to how much water you should be drinking each day, and what counts toward your daily intake, are not always as straightforward. From your age to your lifestyle and habits, how much water you need to drink for optimal health every day can, and often does, vary from person to person.
What Role Does My Activity And Lifestyle Play In How Much Water I Should Drink?
A general rule of thumb is that the more active you are, the more water you need to drink. For example, if you’re regularly participating in sports or other activities that cause sweating, those fluids will need to be replaced often for you to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Athletes of all ability levels benefit from drinking enough water to prevent dehydration and to keep muscles working effectively and efficiently both during exertion and afterwards. It’s also common for athletes to underestimate how much water they need to drink.
A good way to think about it is to plan on drinking between 15 and 20 ounces of water in the 2 hours leading up to your exercise. Within 15 minutes of beginning exercise, plan to drink a glass (8-10 ounces) of water. During your workout, you should aim to drink about a glass (8-10 ounces) roughly every 15 minutes. These recommendations will vary based on how hard you’re exerting yourself, how much you’re sweating, and other factors like the environment.
Do Sports Drinks Count Toward My Daily Hydration Goals?
Yes, like juices and other water-based beverages, sports drinks count towards your overall hydration. If you’re exercising a lot, you may be tempted to look into sports drinks to help you stay hydrated. While these beverages often contain electrolytes and other beneficial vitamins, they’re not generally necessary. The exception to this is if you’re exercising for more than an hour at a time — past 60 minutes of exertion energy drinks with electrolytes can help you maintain a healthy fluid balance. These drinks do tend to have large quantities of sugar in them, however, so be sure you’re reading labels carefully if you’re trying to focus on hydration.
Do I Need To Drink More Water Every Day As I Age?
One of the very important considerations of your daily hydration goals is your age. While younger people tend to have little problems hydrating, the signals that inform our bodies when they need water – thirst being the most noticeable – tend to diminish over time. Not unlike an eyesight or hearing becoming weaker with age, so does this sensation of thirst and fluid monitoring. As a result, it’s very important for people over 50 to make regular hydration a part of their routine, regardless of whether or not they feel thirsty. Aim to drink at least 12 to 15 cups of water each day if you’re over 50.
When Are The Best Times To Drink Throughout The Day?
While drinking enough water is the real key to health, there are also some advantages to timing out how you’re drinking your daily water needs. For example, drinking one or two glasses of water right after waking up in the morning can have tremendous benefits for your body – from rehydrating you after a night of sleep and prepping your body for the day, to ridding toxins from your body that may have accumulated overnight.
Drinking before meals is also a great habit to get into, as it not only helps with digestion, it can also curb your appetite helping to make sure you don’t over-indulge. If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain it, this is a great step to help you toward your goals.
Do The Foods I Eat Count Toward My Daily Water Consumption?
Yes – the solid foods we eat count towards about 20% of our water intake. However, that doesn’t mean that all foods are created equal when it comes to our bodies’ fluid levels. Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are water rich and contribute more than other types of foods to your overall hydration.