by, Dr. Hanna Sattler, PT, DPT, CSCS
Water, often referred to as the “elixir of life”, is an essential component for our overall well-being. Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining our health, and understanding our daily hydration requirements is essential for thriving. We all know water is important, but most of us are still under-hydrated!
Read below to better understand the daily hydration needs for the average person, explore how these requirements differ for athletes and various climates, and other variables that influence our hydration demands.
THE DAILY BASICS
On a typical day, the average person requires approximately 8-10 cups of water to maintain proper hydration. However, individual needs may vary based on factors like age, sex, weight, and activity level. For those who prefer a more precise guideline, the "8x8 rule" is often recommended, which means consuming eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Water is vital for numerous bodily functions:
Regulating body temperature
Aiding in digestion
Reduce brain fog
It also has a lot of beauty benefits such as
Fuller, plumper skin
Improved hair health - shiny and full hair!
Better canvas for makeup
8-10 CUPS = ~2 LITERS = HALF A GALLON = 64-80 OUNCES AT A MINIMUM!!
HYDRATION FOR ATHLETES
Athletes have higher hydration requirements due to increased physical activity, which leads to higher sweat loss. Strenuous exercise can cause athletes to lose a significant amount of fluids and electrolytes. To ensure optimal performance and prevent dehydration, they need to adapt their hydration strategies accordingly.
Here are some tips for athletes or those who exercise regularly
You need to be hydrated before you even start training! Athletes should start their exercise sessions well-hydrated. Aim to drink 16-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before exercise. This means, for the entire day leading up to your workout, you need to be drinking 1-2 cups of fluid an hour - not including coffee. You should also drink a cup of water about 15-30 minutes prior to exercise. If you workout in the morning you need to hydrate the entire day before AND first thing in the morning!
Athletes should aim to consume 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes to replace lost fluids. I know this may sound like a lot, but you can take slow sips, and it doesn't have to be consumed all at once!
Rehydration is essential after strenuous workouts. Athletes should consume 20-24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost during exercise. Weighing yourself before and after exercise can help you determine how much water on average you should drink afterwards. Don’t obsess over the exact amount! After a few weeks of measuring, you’ll have an average of weight lost during your usual exercise and won’t have to keep weighing yourself so frequently.
If you are exercising for more than one hour, you also want to be replenishing your electrolytes during the activity. If your workout or activity is under an hour, replenishing afterwards is fine! Consider sports drinks that contain electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Try to stay away from sugary drinks like Gatorade. Instead, look for drinks, powders or tabs (dissolve in your water bottle) that will replenish your electrolytes with no caffeine and less than 2% of carbohydrates from sugar. Electrolytes aide in a faster recovery, reduce cramping and will re-hydrate you faster.
THE INFLUENCE OF VARIOUS CLIMATES
Climate plays a significant role in determining your daily hydration requirements. Therefore, it's crucial to adapt your hydration routine based on your surroundings. This includes adapting to the season if you live in an area that experiences 4 seasons!
HOT AND/OR HUMID ENVIRONMENTS
Can lead to increased sweat and fluid loss
Drink fluids regularly, even if you don't feel thirsty, to stay ahead of dehydration.
Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.
Consume foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables.
COLD AND/OR DRY CLIMATES
Can reduce your sense of thirst
Pay attention to your thirst cues and drink fluids regularly, even if you don't feel as thirsty.
Protect yourself from wind and cold to minimize moisture loss through the skin.
Use insulated water containers to prevent your drinks from freezing.
Increases hydration demands significantly especially if you’re visiting this altitude vs living here
Need an additional 1-1.5L (35oz)/day
MEDICATIONS - most medications need to be taken with a full 8oz glass of water
DIET - if you consume a lot of sodium and sugar, you need to drink even more water!
PREGNANCY - you have 50% more blood circulating in your body - you need that much more water to keep you and the fetus hydrated!
TIPS FOR MEASURING YOUR HYDRATION
There are a few ways to measure your hydration.
The color of your urine: lighter yellow or clear urine indicates hydration. However, keep in mind that caffeine (coffee, tea, energy drinks) and alcohol are deceiving because they will dehydrate you while still keeping your urine light.
Weighing yourself before and after a workout to determine water loss.
Get a fun reusable water bottle & bring it EVERYWHERE!
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Dry mouth & cracked lips
Lack of sweating
Hard and fast heartbeat.
More severe dehydration presents in
Loss of consciousness.
If you have these symptoms or see someone experiencing symptoms of dehydration or heat illness, get immediate medical attention!
I know this was A LOT of information, so let's sum it all up!
On average, drink 64-80oz of water/day
16-20oz before exercise (this can be taken from your daily requirements, just make sure its consumed beforehand!)
~30oz for every 1 hour of exercise
24oz after exercise (for every pound lost)
8oz if you take medications
35oz at a high altitude
= between 120-160oz/day That’s more than 1gal of water!!
Water is a precious resource that our bodies depend on for optimal functioning. By staying properly hydrated, you'll be better equipped to thrive in various circumstances, whether you're an athlete pushing your limits or simply navigating the challenges of everyday life. Also note that if you are consistently hydrating properly, one or two days of “slipping up” won’t affect you as significantly as if you aren’t always well hydrated. Remember, your body is your best guide, so listen to its cues and make hydration a priority.
Dr. Hanna Sattler, PT, DPT
Owner/Founder of OTB Physical Therapy