I am going to talk to you about the effects that water or lack of water has on the body. I’ll go into a bit of detail as to just how hydration affects the body so hang on in there!
Drinking water is always important as if we don’t drink water, we die within a few days. Every bodily component, from the individual cell to the entire circulation system, depends upon water to function. It is even more important as you exercise.
Exercise generates heat, which must be released to prevent the body from overheating, and sweating is the most important body mechanism to control this temperature rise. Therefore, during exercise, the body starts to dehydrate due to loss of fluids from sweating. Losses of as little as 2% of the body weight as fluid can impair physical and mental performance. Further losses of fluid as a percentage of body weight have the following effects:
- impaired performance 2%
- capacity for muscular work declines 4%
- heat exhaustion 5%
- hallucinations 7%
- heat stroke and circulatory collapse 10%
The body responds to dehydration by triggering various mechansims in order to try to conserve fluid and return itself to normal. First of all a person will feel thirsty; this is followed by a reduced urine output and conservation of sodium by the kidneys; lastly there is a reduced sweat output. However, the reduced sweat output brings about a further rise in core temperature and the demand for more sweat increases. Failure to produce more sweat is followed by another rise in temperature. The blood thickens and the heart rate increases, which will eventually lead to heat stroke and circulatory collapse, scary I know!
The body loses about 2.8L of fluid through urine, sweat, faeces and through breathing. The average man should consume at least 2.9 litres of water per day and the average woman at least 2.2 litres a day for optimal cellular and metabolic processes. This amount will vary depending on the time of year, climatic conditions, diet and how much physical activity a person does.
It is very rare that athletes and exercisers such as yourself suffer from severe dehydration; however, a number of exercisers will regularly become dehydrated during training. One of the main reasons for this is because in humans, thirst is a very poorly developed mechanism – when a person feels thirsty they are already in a state of dehydration. As we know, if an athlete is dehydrated by only 2% of their body weight, it will have a detrimental effect on their performance. Therefore, if you can prevent the effects of fluid loss you will feel better, continue to perform better and recover more quickly.
So there we have it guys, just make sure you are drinking regularly throughout the day and even more so during exercise and you’ll be just fine.
Thanks for reading.