The only certainties in life are supposedly limited to death and taxes. However you could quite easily add: drinking water. Though it’s inescapable, a lot of us don’t do it right. After all, you seemingly function well enough without taking in the daily recommended dose of 2 Litres. However, dehydration immediately affects your performance in a bunch of subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways. With even a mild 2% dehydration impacting on your body’s functions, we have some tips for knowing when to take a swig of the old H2O.
First, keep an eye on the symptoms. The most obvious signs of dehydration are thirst, a dry mouth and body cramps; it’s worth responding to these physiological broadcasts which show dehydration has advanced and is settling in. Others, such as fatigue, headaches and dizziness, we might put down to stress or lack of sleep, but potentially could be cured with a glass of water. Keep in mind, your brain is 85% water, so there are also psychological and and mental indicators of when we’re not getting enough.
Second, factor into account your body’s activity. With bodies composed of 70% water, it's unsurprising that it plays a pretty major role in key bodily processes. But the cost of that is loss of water. So if you’re breathing, sweating or using the toilet a lot, you’re spending your body’s reserves of water. And with that dehydration, your body will have less water for processing food or facilitating enzymes vital for stoking your energy levels. As a consequence, your workout is going to feel a lot harder and unnecessarily so.
Third, work water into your day. Keep water bottles handy, either at your workspace throughout the day or ready for your next workout. Start and end your day with a glass and always drink water during meals as your body will need extra around these times. Use good quality sea-salts in your meals; the elements can assist cell health and hydration. Stick away from coffee and alcohol or, if it’s unavoidable, make sure you compensate and increase your water intake.
In fact, why don't you have a glass now?
Damon Young is one of Australia’s most celebrated philosophers. He recently put out a book called How to Think About Exercise, which explores the link between fitness and mental wellbeing. We enjoyed it so much that we reached out for a chat.
What is the relationship between exercise and the mind?
It’s more than we often think. There’s plenty of scope within exercise to encourage imagination, to prompt thought, and offer meditation. There are even opportunities to develop virtues, such as courage and discipline.
You seem to be a particularly big fan of walking as exercise. Why?
When you’re walking you can encourage a state called Transient Hypofrontality or – as I call it – “walker’s reverie”. It’s a creative state that allows ideas that were previously kept apart to intermingle. It’s almost like meditation. Charles Darwin was someone who knew all about this. He would go for a walk every day on a path he had around his home. The walk, and the state of mind that went with it, helped him to do a lot of hard creative work and ultimately change millennia of dogma.