Updated: Mar 20
Whether you are someone who is looking to feel more energised or a professional athlete, keeping your body hydrated is the bare minimum you can do to optimise mental and physical performance. As a professional swimmer, I always have to make sure my body is at its maximum level of hydration, so I can perform at my best during everyday workouts and swim meets. Walking around with a water bottle or sports drink bottle has become part of who I am. Staying hydrated not only helps me to stay on top of my physical performance, but also I make sure I am always at my best mentally.
In this week’s article, I will tell you a couple of reasons why I believe staying hydrated is so important in every aspect of your life.
1 - Physical Performance Improvement
You can go around and ask anyone who workouts or practice any sports how they would feel if they had to perform their activities at a dehydration level of their bodies. In the sports world, it is known that dehydration increases things such muscle lactate production (which leads to increased muscle fatigue), perceived rate of exertion, glycogen utilisation, thermal strain and cardiovascular strain.
A study published in 2015 Asker Jeukendrup & Michael Gleeson at Humankinetics, suggests that “A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease of physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more of body weight during physical activities may decrease the capacity for work by roughly 30%”.
Therefore we can conclude that the lack of proper hydration will cause major damage to your athletic performance as shown. Making sure you are always replenishing fluid and electrolytes if you are engaged in a physical activity is a must if you are looking to perform at optimum levels.
2 - Mental Performance Improvement
I personally hate the feeling of being thirsty. It immediately makes me feel less focused and decreases my capacity of thinking rationally. Well, brain cells require a specific balance between water and various electrolytes to function, so when we lose too much water, that balance is compromised.
A recent study suggests that “Even mild to moderate level of dehydration - the loss of 2 pounds for someone who weighs 100 pounds and 4 pounds for someone weighing 200 - led to attention problems and impaired decision making...dehydration led to impairment in tasks requiring attention, motor coordination, and executive function, which includes things like map recognition, grammatical reasoning, mental math, and proofreading, for example”, according to the report in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. So, even if you’re not an athlete or someone that practices enough physical activities that would require and extra attention for hydration, it is still vital to stay properly hydrated so you can perform well at things such as business meetings and everyday normal tasks.
3 - Energy Levels
In the sports community, we know that dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. In sports like swimming, track and field, football, MMA, Crossfit, etc, where athletes tend to train for long periods of time under a lot of stress trying to achieve a high level of performance and losing a lot of sweat, it is vital that a proper form of hydration is taking place not only after the workouts but before, during and after.
When we start getting dehydrated, our body’s functions tend to slow down and use other extra energy sources, leaving us feeling very tired and apathetic. That happens in everyday normal daily functions outside of the sports world as well. The feeling of not being able to focus on an important business meeting, trouble focusing in class or while studying for an exam can also be happening because of dehydration.
4 - Cardiovascular Health Improvement
This one is pretty simple. Our hearts are working constantly and pumping about 7500 Litres of blood everyday. If we make sure we are hydrated at all times, or drinking more water than we are losing, we are making sure we help our hearts to perform its primary function and do its job effectively. Our muscles will work even better if our heart is performing efficiently and pumping blood better.
5 - Headache Relief
As I mentioned in this article, with my years of professional swimming experience and high intensity training experience, I am able to differentiate in between a dehydration headache and a normal stress-related headache. Water deprivation and dehydration can lead to the development of headaches. Unfortunately this observation is currently unexplored in the medical literature, but some observational studies indicate that water deprivation can increase irritability and trigger migraines.
6 - Kidney Functionality Improvement
Our kidneys function is basically removing waste from our blood. By making sure we are properly hydrated, we are also making sure our urine is diluted which improves kidney functionality. Proper Hydration will also promote vasodilation therefore helping the blood to travel freely and smoothly to our kidneys and deliver our essential nutrients and vitamins.
Hopefully I was able to show you enough to persuade you on making sure you stay hydrated and drink more water/sports drinks to make sure your liquid and electrolyte are always at optimum levels. Either for physical activities performance or a healthy performance of everyday functions, make sure you are looking for products and adapting to a lifestyle where your body is always hydrated. This article will show you a little more about how to make sure your diet can help you to stay hydrated too. If you are making switches on your diet or schedule/lifestyle, look for products that will help you achieve your hydration goals too. Like I mentioned in this article, luckily there are already healthier options of foods and drinks on the market that can help people get their essential vitamins and minerals and keep your hydration levels at its peak without the extra calories.
In case you are like me and like to practice sports or physical activities on a daily basis, there are also electrolyte replacement products available that are low-sugar and low-calories. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink for example is a great way of replenishing your essential electrolytes after a workout but keeping the calorie count low and consuming only 5g of natural sugars per bottle. You could use the code PM10 for a special 10% discount on their website, and I also recommend you to subscribe to their newsletter because they are always releasing special codes for even higher discounts on their products.