Pilates & Staying Hydrated
Nov 01, 2020
You are practicing Pilates and making your health a priority, but something as simple as ensuring your daily water intake is sufficient could really improve a large number of health conditions. Most of us know the importance of drinking water to stay hydrated and start out with the best of intentions for keeping up our water intake. However, it's so easy to get sidetracked and even slight dehydration can exacerbate many health issues. Over the years, I have seen so many clients in my Pilates studio improve their health and wellbeing, by adjusting their daily water intake to ensure it is sufficient for their individual needs. So let's look at the reasons why water is so important and which conditions respond well to adequate hydration.
Why is it so Important to Stay Hydrated?
Around 70 % of the adult human body is made up of water and at the most basic level, dehydration starts to occur when the volume of fluids that your body is using or losing is not being replaced. This makes it impossible for the systems of your body to carry out their normal functions. Thirst is not an accurate guide to letting you know you are dehydrated and once you have reached this stage you may already be experiencing dehydration. Mild dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more water, but severe dehydration requires medical treatment. As we age, we have a lower volume of water in our bodies, so people over 60 need to be especially vigilant in monitoring their hydration levels. If you are ill, have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea or are in extreme heat or exercising heavily, it's vital that you monitor your water intake and watch for signs of dehydration.
Staying Hydrated is a Lesson I Learned the Hard Way
When I was 15, I was hospitalised with kidney stones and this was the direct result of my own carelessness when it came to drinking water. It was a particularly hot summer and I was attending dance classes several times per week in preparation for an end of year performance. I was only drinking very small amounts of water and going for hours at a time without drinking anything at all. Back then no one carried water bottles, so bubblers were the only water source and they were few and far between. I wasn't thirsty and was completely pre-occupied with the end of year activities to give my water intake any thought at all. For those you who have experienced the excruciating pain of kidney stones, you understand how all-consuming it is and until I "passed" the stone, I wouldn't be able to participate in any of the activities I'd been so looking forward to.
The specialist gave me some simple but wonderful advice that has stayed with me ever since - "Drink Water!". If I wanted to get out of hospital, off the painkillers and get on with my life, I had to drink water and lots of it! Well, I started drinking water and was probably in danger of drinking too much, but I was determined to get out of there in time for my dance performance and I did it! I had lost a lot of weight, my costumes were suddenly a bit too large and I was exhausted, but I was pain-free and drinking water at every available opportunity. For those of you who know me, you know I always have a water bottle close by. If something as simple as drinking water was the solution to such a painful condition as kidney stones, this led me to ask the following question.
What Other Health Issues Can Be Improved by Increasing Your Water Intake?
Several of my clients have not been able to commit to staying hydrated even though they know it is compromising their health, they just can't bring themselves to do it. One client, in particular, who has lumbar disc bulges knows it would greatly improve his condition but he would rather have back pain than drink water. Other clients in a similar situation, who weren't aware that staying hydrated could potentially improve their pain levels, have tried staying hydrated and experienced a reduction in their pain level. Drinking water is important because the fluid-filled discs between each vertebrae of the spine contain collagen and water. These discs are like shock absorbers for the spine and lose water during the day and need to be rehydrated during the night. If you haven't drunk enough water they can't replenish and become dried out and damaged, potentially resulting in back pain.
So if you have disc issues or non-specific back pain you have nothing to lose by increasing your water intake. Some headaches can be caused by slight dehydration and can be reversed by hydrating. Muscle cramps can be debilitating in the feet, calves and hamstrings and can come on during the day or during the night and again can be linked to water intake. These are just some of the conditions that could be improved by staying hydrated.
How Can I Monitor My Water Daily Water Intake?
As I mentioned before, it's so easy to get sidetracked in our efforts to ensure we stay hydrated on a daily basis, but there are some simple steps you can take to make drinking water more manageable and accessible. If you have no idea what your daily water intake is, try filling a 2 litre water bottle in the morning and see how you go drinking that amount throughout the day. If finishing 2 litres seems too difficult, but 1/2 litre or 1 litre was achievable, it gives you a general idea of what your current water intake is. There are numerous calculators available on the internet to help you calculate the recommended amount of water you need daily, based on your individual needs. When you have found your ideal amount, start each day with that amount in a water bottle so you know you have reached your daily target. Always carry water with you wherever you go, including in your car as you never know when you could be stranded somewhere for a period of time and unable to access water any other way, which could lead to mild dehydration.
Having learned at a young age the importance of staying hydrated, I highly recommend you take some time to ensure you are staying adequately hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause irreparable damage to vital organs over the long term, so to say it's worth the effort for a long healthy life is an understatement. If I had continued on the path I was following, I would have almost certainly ended up with permanent kidney damage. Don't wait to learn the hard way, ensure you are staying hydrated on a daily basis, your body will thank you for it!
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