Hydration Isn’t Just for Athletes

Baby to Boomer - We All Need Water

When we think about hydration, we often think of athletes who expend massive amounts of energy and sweat. Of course, athletes and fitness enthusiasts need water to stay hydrated, but are they the only ones who need to keep track of their fluid intake?

No matter your age, activity level or gender, hydration plays a huge role in your health and how you feel. It’s not just about replacing sweat that’s lost. The human body loses fluids around the clock, heavy activity or sleeping. As long as you are taking a breath, you need fluids. But how much do you need and when? How can you tell you’re becoming dehydrated?


Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration isn’t always obvious at first. Some say by the time you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Thirst, however, isn’t the only symptom of dehydration. Our bodies are pretty amazing creatures. They send us signals about our health all the time, but we aren’t always in tune enough with our bodies to recognize them. We immediately attribute a headache to stress, a runny nose to allergies, and a stomach ache to something we ate. Maybe so, but there are nuances to our bodily symptoms that could give us more clues if we’d only listen.

The Mayo Clinic agrees that thirst isn’t a reliable indicator of hydration. They go a step further to say that older adults, in particular, cannot gauge hydration by thirst. In fact, older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. Dehydration symptoms can vary by age, climate, current health status, medications and other factors. Here are the Mayo Clinic’s signs of dehydration, broken down by age:

Infant or young child

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability

Adult

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

When to see a doctor

  • Diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Irritable or disoriented
  • Much sleepier or less active than normal
  • Can’t keep down fluids
  • Has bloody or black stool

What Role Hydration Plays in Overall Health

We’ve written lots of blogs about the importance of hydration for athletes, but we also know from experience that many people don’t quite understand how critical it is to overall health. They believe hydration is only something you have to think of when you’re hot, working out, or playing sports. Fluids do more than simply replace sweat. According to Harvard Medical School, fluids “maintain the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation.”

Hydration may seem more obvious for those who are exerting themselves, however, science proves we are all at risk for dehydration. WebMD puts it this way: “We lose water every day in the form of water vapor in the breath we exhale and in our excreted sweat, urine, and stool. Along with water, small amounts of salts are also lost.”

This means every breath we take, every move we make, and every step we take (thank you, Sting) is drawing water from our bodies. There are quite a few other contributors as well. It goes on to tell us of the many causes of dehydration in adults, only one of which is from exercise:

  • Fever, heat exposure, and too much exercise
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination due to infection
  • Diseases such as diabetes
  • The inability to seek appropriate water and food (as in the case of a disabled person)
  • An impaired ability to drink (for instance, someone in a coma or on a respirator)
  • No access to safe drinking water
  • Significant injuries to skin, such as burns or mouth sores, or severe skin diseases or infections (water is lost through damaged skin)

The Mayo Clinic adds other factors, such as medications that have the ability to increase the risk of dehydration and certain medical conditions, such as infections affecting the lungs or bladder. Whether you’re in perfect health or battling an illness, your fluid intake should be considered as important as food. In fact, you can live a lot longer without food than you can without water, making fluids the single most important human need.


How Much Is Enough?

It’s not always easy to tell if you’ve had enough water to keep your cells and organs properly hydrated. As we said before, thirst is not a reliable indicator for many reasons. One of the biggest factors in hydration is the uniqueness of human bodies. Every person is built differently than anyone else; we metabolize nutrients differently; our requirements are not the same as a friend’s or spouse’s, for instance. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to estimate how much water one person needs to stay hydrated without science.

Technology is catching up with hydration. Before, we had to guess how much water we needed. We listened to people tell us to drink until our urine is clear, to drink half our weight in ounces, to drink eight cups a day. While these may be a fairly decent starting point, they by no means consider your personal makeup, your activity level, your medications, your climate, or your physical requirements. Thanks to fitness trackers and smart water bottles, however, we now know how much is actually enough.


Related: Who Needs A Smart Water Bottle?


Smart water bottles enable users to input personal data, such as age, gender, and weight, then use data such as ambient temperature, humidity, altitude, activity level, and exertion to determine how much fluid will stave off dehydration. Not only that, the smart water bottles will send users nudges to remind them to drink so you don’t get to the end of your day and realize you’ve only had one bottle of water.


Get Smart about Your Hydration

No matter how athletic you are or aren’t - even if you never work out - you need to know if you’re at risk for dehydration simply by being alive. No one wants to suffer the symptoms we listed above. The good news is dehydration is completely preventable, but only if you know the signs and know how much fluid your body needs.

To date, no other piece of technology tracks your hydration as accurately as a smart water bottle, especially when it is paired with an activity tracker, like Fitbit. When your personal data is combined with your environment, you get the most precise recommendations so you can drink exactly what your specific body actually needs instead of guessing. You don’t need to carry around giant jugs of water, tally your ounces all day long, or scrutinize your urine.


Related: Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Fitbit?


As you look for ways to improve your health and overall well-being, hydration should be at the top of your list. It’s hard to believe that something as simple as drinking enough fluids throughout the day can change how you feel and look. Try it for two weeks and note any differences you or others notice in you. Some of the most common side effects of proper hydration are increased energy and mood, better digestion, weight loss, better sleep, and fewer headaches. Any of those sound worth the effort? We thought so. Now get your smart water bottle and start hydrating the right way.

Tags: Fitbit, hydrate smarter, hydration, smart water bottle, trago, water