We all know that it is important to drink plenty of water, but do you know why? I’ll be honest: I didn’t know until recently, when I started doing some research to answer some of the questions that came up in my SGX classes. (I’m the coach.) Believe me when I say that I was amazed at the reasons why hydration helps us. Here’s what I found.
Why You Should Make Hydration a Priority
1. Water promotes brain function.
Your brain consists of about 85% water. It makes sense, then, that if the body becomes dehydrated, the brain is going to suffer. Dehydration affects memory, concentration and coordination. The lack of water actually causes the neurons to shrink, which disrupts hormones and neurotransmitters as well as the brain’s ability to communicate with other organs. If a Spartan is always learning, the brain must be sharp and ready to focus.
2. Water is essential for circulation.
The human body consists of between 65% and 75% water, depending on your body composition. Water is crucial for the body’s ability to maintain proper blood flow, which transports oxygen to all of its cells. In addition to transporting oxygen, blood takes carbon dioxide from the cells back to the lungs, from which it leaves when we exhale. This means that if you’re not hydrated, your blood is not going to work as well. This is obviously not good, especially during long endurance events.
3. Water keeps your skin healthy.
Every month, your outer layer of skin regenerates itself. This means that you can see the positive effects of drinking enough water after about a month. (Some people report “glowing.”) But that’s not the most important part. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and requires water to regenerate new cells. If your skin doesn’t regenerate, cuts and wounds won’t heal. In addition, the skin can become dry and less elastic if it is dehydrated.
4. Water keeps your muscles healthy.
I bet you’re starting to see a pattern. Turns out the muscles are like the brain, the blood, and the skin; they work better when the body is properly hydrated. Hydration keeps the joints and cartilage lubricated, providing better support for your muscles. Dehydration often results in muscle cramps and a decrease in performance.
5. Water helps us digest food.
Drinking water before and during a meal can help to dissolve chewed food and help it pass through the digestive tract. Water also helps to flush toxins from the body and to relieve constipation. Drink up!
6. Water will energize you.
Remember what I said in #2? Because hydration helps your blood to transport more oxygen and nutrients to your cells and organs, your organs will not have to work as hard to, well, to keep you alive.
I can explain this with a question: have you ever tried to go for a run on a full stomach? My guess is that you have, and that you didn’t like it. This is because, after you eat, all of the blood rushes to your stomach to help it to break down food. Less blood is available to fuel your legs. Therefore, your legs feel more tired. Being well hydrated means that your blood will work better, which means that you will digest food better, which means that you will have more energy.
7. Water helps us regulate body temperature.
Your face gets red after you exercise because your body generates heat when it moves. To keep from overheating, your body sends warm blood into the skin. At the same time, your body produces sweat, which cools your body as it evaporates. This, in turn, cools the blood, which cools you. However, this can’t happen if your blood isn’t working efficiently, or if your body can’t produce sweat. Both of those processes take lots of water.
8. Water keeps you in shape.
I don’t mean that it takes the place of exercise and good food. I mean that water is an excellent training tool. Whether you’re swimming laps in a pool or lifting your body out of the water by hoisting yourself onto the dock or the side of the pool, water is a great place to practice your obstacle skills.
9. Water decreases stress.
Becoming only mildly dehydrated can cause a spike in cortisol production. Cortisol is our chief stress hormone and can cause an increase of sugars in the bloodstream. This means that hydrating can help to keep cortisol levels down and keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.
10. Water therapy can help you heal faster.
Water therapy, ice baths for example, can rejuvenate the muscles. Hot springs or hot tubs, on the other hand, can be soothing and relaxing. Dunk tanks or sensory deprivation tanks can be amazing for meditation and self-exploration, and these are just the beginning.