We’ve all heard the rule that we should drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day to stay properly hydrated and healthy. But where did this rule come from? What is the science and research behind the recommendation? Do you need to drink more water if you work out a lot? And what about the foods, like soup and grapefruit, that have a lot of water in them? Do they count towards your daily water-total?
A new commentary in the British Medical Journal, where a doctor called the recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day, “thoroughly debunked nonsense,” is causing many to question what had been considered hydration-law. To clear this whole water-recommendation thing up, we talked with some experts about hydration to get the real deal on how much you really need to drink.
Do I Need to Drink Eight Glasses of Water a Day?
Basically, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to optimal hydration, says Dr. Josh Wagner, owner of The Life House on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he practices chiropractic and sports medicine.
“Eight cups of water per day is the classic recommendation for keeping hydrated, but how could, say, a 105-pound woman need to consume the same amount of water as a 240-pound man?” Dr. Wagner asks. “I usually advise my patients to drink at least half their body weight in ounces of water per day, and to add even more water if they tend to enjoy caffeinated beverages or alcohol or if they have other health concerns, such as diabetes. You’ve heard it before, but water makes up such a large percentage of our bodies and is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle.”
According to MSNBC.com, a new study from Stanford University predicts that global climate change will lead permanently to unusually hot summers by the middle of the century. So, as the summers heat up, what can you do to stay cool and keep hydrated?
Lather Up: With excessive heat often comes excessive sunshine and no matter how much time you plan to spend outside, sun safety is critical for preventing skin cancer. Use sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher daily for protection and if you’re planning on spending the day outdoors, up the ante to an SPF45 or higher.
I ran my first marathon in the spring of 2007. There were medic tents located every few miles along the course. That made perfect sense to me however, I was utterly confused about the continuous offers of Vaseline on a stick. The medics had large tongue depressors with heaping dollops of petroleum jelly on the ends. As I passed the tents they held them out hollering, “Vaseline? Vaseline?”
My best guess was that runners must like to use Vaseline for lip balm to keep their lips from getting dry.
Somewhere around mile 13 all my curiosity was cured. I was passing yet another tent and ignoring the offer for jelly on a stick when I heard thundering steps behind me and a primal scream rang out, “VASELINE!!!!”
The male runner was doing some sort of bow-legged hop as he quickly grabbed the aid and proceeded to slather it all over his nether region.
All questions were then answered and I got my first glimpse into a dirtier side of running.
Playing sports has a multitude of benefits for kids. Beyond the understood exercise, children learn time management, how to get along with other players, and most importantly, the necessity of teamwork. One of the most important, and least emphasized, skills that children will learn while playing sports is the necessity of proper nutrition and how it relates to both endurance and results.
Have you heard the saying, “You only get out of it what you put into it?” That saying seems tailor made for sports. As adults, we know the importance of fueling ourselves correctly, being certain to be adequately hydrated and well rested. These lessons are not usually at the forefront of a coach’s mind, however, and when you spend time ferrying your kids back and forth, it can often slip to the bottom of your priority list as well. After all, you’ve got to remember where the practice has been scheduled, remember to get the kids there on time AND the gear – something’s bound to slip your mind.
Arguably the most important aspect of the children/sports/nutrition triangle, and the one easiest to overlook, is hydration. Sure, we send our kids to practice and games with a water bottle – but do we make sure that they drink it all? And is the beverage that we’ve given them the best choice? How many of us have seen the swarm of players at the end of a game, grabbing a sugar sweetened drink pouch and thought to yourself, “Is that really the best beverage choice for a player who has just run for an hour?” Let’s take a look at hydration as it relates to the child or teen athlete.
Debra Roby is certified as a Personal Trainer through NASM. She trains private clients in the SF Bay area and is developing an online coaching business. She blogs at Weight for Deb.
When we get mildly dehydrated – simply missing one to three glasses of water throughout the day- the symptoms are often weight gain, confusion and a craving for sweets. Because we do not recognize these clues as “my body is thirsty”, we go about addressing these symptoms incorrectly. Often our “cures” -coffee or soda, salty or sweet snacks or even a nap- make the condition slightly worse instead of better.
We’ve learned it’s important to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Sipping from one glass each hour throughout the day keeps our cells hydrated. When we forget, our body pulls water from where it can find it -our urine, our intestines, and our blood-to insure that our cells can continue to function. When this fluid is pulled away, it leads to kidney stones, bladder infections, constipation and more. More chronic dehydration affects our brain, leaving us confused or unable to concentrate.