How Much Water Should You Drink?

Heart

Your heart is 75 percent water. Blood is 85 percent water. Good hydration increases the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. Hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol may all be lowered by an increase in water consumption. During exercise you may experience "cardiac creep" as the blood becomes sluggish due to water loss.

More: The Beat Goes On: Heart Health & Nutrition

Lungs

Lung tissues are moistened by water as they take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Allergies and asthmatic symptoms may be a sign of not drinking enough water.

Body Temperature

Water is your body's coolant, regulating your temperature. It helps to ensure that we don't overheat by releasing heat energy from the body through perspiration and evaporation. Symptoms of heat exhaustion (when your body doesn't have enough water to regulate body temperature) include excessive perspiration, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

A three percent weight loss from water results in serious health problems. A 15 percent water loss can result in death. It is recommended that you weigh yourself before and after exercising and note any weight change. I was surprised to see how dramatic that can be and how much water I consumed to replace what was lost.

Your body needs as much water in cold weather as it does in hot weather.

More: Hydration Tips to Train in the Heat

Water Loss

Adults lose 2 to 3 quarts of water every day. That's 8 to 12 cups. You lose 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water just through the soles of your feet. Another two to four cups are lost from breathing. Perspiration accounts for another 2 to 4 cups. Another6 cups are lost in urine. Dry skin is a common symptom of minor dehydration.

There is no way for the body to store water. When you are dehydrated, your body rations and recycles water. Toxic wastes are dumped into the tissues—fat, joints, and muscle—instead of being eliminated. If you suffer from occasional cramping of legs and feet at night, review your exercise and water consumption for the day.

More: Measure Your Sweat Loss for Optimal Hydration

You Are What You Drink and Eat

You can live without food for a month or more but can only survive for three or four days without water. Water is the solvent that moves the nutrients, hormones, antibodies, and oxygen through your blood stream and lymphatic system. Your two trillion cells are mini-factories producing waste products. Water is necessary to move toxins and wastes out of our bodies. If you are not drinking enough water, your body has to recycle dirty water, and every metabolic function in your body does not work as efficiently as it should.

Ask yourself: How much water am I drinking, not as tea or coffee, fruit or vegetable juices, but as pure H20? Am I eating a variety fruits and vegetable loaded with water?

Statistics are from the U.S. Geological Survey.

More: 15 Hydration Facts for Athletes 

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Judy Heller, founder of Wonders of Walking LLC, advocates walking for well being and pleasure. Judy Heller is also founder of EroFit & Associates, LLC, celebrating Fitness for a Lifetime. Heller offers personalized fitness training and coaching for individuals and groups. Heller can be contacted at www.wondersofwalking.com.

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