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Benefits of water during exercise

This is an excerpt from Morning Pilates Workouts by Cathleen Murakami.

Nearly two thirds of the human body is water. Water is an essential nutrient that is involved in every function of the body. It helps transport nutrients in and waste products out of cells. It is necessary for all digestive, absorption, circulatory, and excretory functions as well as for assimilating water-soluble vitamins. Water also helps maintain proper body temperature.

Always drink plenty of water. You can live without food for several weeks, but you can go less than a week without water. Water must be continuously replaced in the body. On average, you lose 250 milliliters of water daily just through breathing. The old rule of thumb, eight glasses (or 2 liters) of water a day, is a good minimum. While experts have not agreed on one universal amount, it is accepted that performance declines with dehydration. By drinking an adequate amount of water each day, you can ensure that your body has all it needs to maintain good health. The best way to get water into your body is by drinking plain water. Other beverages, such as fruit juices, milk, and noncaffeinated drinks, can hydrate the body because they contain a high percentage of water. In addition, fruits and vegetables can be good water sources. If you work out in high altitude or a desert environment, both of which will have very low humidity, or if you work out on an exceptionally hot day, remember to boost your minimum intake of clear fluids.

Starting out hydrated is a good choice for morning exercisers. Drink water before your workout; you lose water while you exercise even without heavy perspiration. Ingesting at least a glass of pure water shortly after rising is a good way to hydrate your system. Adding a small squeeze of lemon for taste also helps stimulate the bowels to evacuate soon thereafter, which will help you feel more comfortable during your workout routine.

Many of you are probably morning coffee or tea drinkers. If you must have some caffeine in the morning, go for it—but consider having a large glass of water first. Although many physicians consider caffeine a diuretic, some recent studies have questioned this belief. As with any fluid, coffee may send you to the bathroom a little more frequently, but a major report by the U.S. government’s Institute of Medicine concludes that coffee quenches thirst as effectively as water and does not deplete bodily fluids (McAuliffe 2005). And, because coffee reduces muscle fatigue and boosts speed and endurance, enjoying a cup of Joe before your workout may enhance your efforts. Sport psychologists attribute these benefits to caffeine’s potent ability to release adrenaline, which in turn strengthens muscle contractions and fosters the creation of energy from fatty acids. So, enjoy your cup of coffee or tea in the morning, and get your a.m. boost. It seems to have no negative effect on your hydration, and you can always have a glass of water first just to be sure.

Hydration is particularly important for the morning workout enthusiast. Remember, you’ve just awakened from a 8-to 10-hour fast. Because proper hydration improves the quality of your workout, reduces fatigue, reduces recovery time, and increases your level of satisfaction, it is especially important for you to hydrate yourself before as well as after your workout session. Keep in mind that thirst is not the best scale by which to measure whether or not you are well hydrated. If your urine is the color of lemonade, you’re doing well; if by chance it is leaning toward the color of apple juice, you need to reach for another glass of fluid. Also, some symptoms of dehydration are headache, poor concentration, tiredness, and constipation. If you happen to feel you need extra electrolytes because you were sweating excessively, you can mix your own electrolyte cocktail using 1 cup (237 milliliters) plain water, 1 cup orange juice, and a pinch of salt. I personally like those Emergen-C packets by Alacer Corporation. They come in a variety of flavors; they are full of electrolytes, B vitamins, and vitamin C; they taste good; and they are easily portable .

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