Most of us are good about staying hydrated when we exercise – after all, you get thirsty after you’ve worked up a sweat, so you’re motivated to drink plenty of water. But good hydration is important all day long, not only when you exercise. Staying well-hydrated supports your immune system and helps keep you healthy. The mucous membranes in your nose, mouth and throat are the body’s first line of defense against both airborne and hand-to-mouth germs that pass from person-to-person. Keeping your mucous membranes moist helps them keep bugs out of your system. Most of us have heard the general rule to drink 8 glasses of water per day, which is easy to remember and a reasonable goal. But how much water you need each day will vary based on the environment, your activity level, your health and many other factors.
According to the experts at the esteemed Mayo Clinic, your fluid intake is probably adequate if:
- You rarely feel thirsty
- Your urine is colorless or light yellow
It’s a good idea to:
- Make water your beverage of choice (instead of soda/pop, alcohol, and even fruit juice).
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise.
- Drink water if you’re feeling hungry. Thirst is often confused with hunger.
These are general guidelines. A doctor or registered dietitian can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you every day.
During flu season, pay extra attention to good hydration. Here in the Northeast, winter’s colder temperatures mean dry air inside and out. And if you travel to escape the cold, remember that humidity level in planes is extra-low, so attempt to down 8 ounces of water every hour you’re in the air. And yes, all that water will inspire additional trips to the bathroom, but the upside is more frequent hand-washing, another good defense against colds and flu.
And don’t forget to keep moving! Exercise is a great, fun way to build a healthy, strong immune system. Sign up for classes at Evolution Pilates and move for your health!