Editor’s note: Before starting a new diet or strenuous physical activities, be sure to get clearance from your primary care physician.
Drinking enough water daily is crucial for many reasons. It regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, prevents infections, delivers nutrients to cells and keeps organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition and mood.
Even so, more than half of U.S. adults don’t drink enough water. A study of 2,000 Americans found that just 22 percent meet USDA daily recommendations.
There are different estimates for how much water adults need, but the general consensus is to drink approximately 11 cups of water per day for the average woman, and 16 cups for men. In recent years, experts have suggested not all of that has to be plain water; you can also hydrate with fruits or vegetables, and even coffee or tea.
However, it is highly recommended to limit or eliminate the amount of sugary soft drinks, fruit juices and energy drinks consumed in place of water. These not only lead to dehydration, but can increase weight gain and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Here’s how to determine your personal daily hydration goal:
• Take your weight. The first step to knowing how much water to drink every day is to know your weight. The amount of water a person should drink varies on his or her weight; a 200-pound man and a 100-pound woman require different amounts of water.
• Multiply by 2⁄3 (or 67 percent). For example, if you weigh 175 pounds you would multiply that by 2/3, and learn that you should be drinking about 117 ounces/3.46 liters of water every day.
• Add your activity level. Finally, adjust that number based on how often you work out, since you are expelling water when you sweat. You should add 12 ounces/.35 liters of water to your daily total for every 30 minutes you work out. So if you work out for 45 minutes daily, you would add 18 ounces/.53 liters of water to your daily intake.
Your skin will thank you. Without increased water consumption, skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores more prominent. Proper hydration helps retain moisture and improves its elasticity. This means it is less likely to crack and have irritations and blemishes.
Increase brain power. It’s well known that water is essential for survival. Now research shows the role of water in the maintenance of brain function, suggesting that particular cognitive abilities and mood states are positively influenced by water consumption. The effect of dehydration on cognition and mood is particularly relevant for those with poor fluid regulation, such as the elderly and children.
Tips to improve consumption. Dehydration is often accidental. Most often, we just forget. Keep a large water bottle with you, and refill it throughout the day; the visual cue will be a reminder to drink water. If that still isn’t helping, set a reminder alarm on your phone.
Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in nutrition education. She works with veterans and civilians, from elite athletes to those just starting their fitness journey. She is commander of the California American Legion’s 24th District.