Dangers of Dehydration, Importance of Drinking Water


Bridgette Gong

Importance of Hydration

Word count: 811

Section: Sports


As the days get longer, so do the opportunities for physical activity and exercise. While it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to prioritize health, it is crucial to remember to stay hydrated all the while, especially with the rising temperatures of summer around the corner.

Whether you are a recreational exerciser or serious athlete, it is incredibly important to make sure that you get the right amount of water throughout the day. “You lose more water as you exercise, so if you don’t replenish that water then you run the risk of becoming dehydrated,” Gunn Health Tech Nurse Deborah Grant said.

When it comes to exercise, water can take care of your body in several more ways than meets the eye. According to the American Heart Association, water is critical for heart health by keeping the body hydrated in order to increase muscles efficiency and aid the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. As a result, there is less of a strain on your heart when hydrated. In addition, water also helps regulate body temperature and transport nutrients to keep you refreshed and energized. In other words, without proper hydration, your body is not able to perform at it’s highest potential. “By not drinking enough water you put yourself at risk of dehydration and the symptoms that go along with that,” Grant said. “Some of the symptoms include what you normally would feel as dry mouth, fatigue, tiredness, sleepiness, headaches, you can also see symptoms that are harder to notice like irritability and mood changes.” During exercise, dehydration can diminish performance level. Muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance severely impede athletic performance and can result from improper hydration.

According to Harvard Health, a healthy person needs anywhere from thirty to fifty ounces of fluid daily, give or take. However, this varies from person to person. During regular body functioning, water is lost through respiration, elimination, and perspiration. There are several factors that can affect the amount of water necessary, including but not limited to level of physical activity, intensity of exercise, humidity, and heat.

When temperatures rise in summer keeping water at hand is essential whether you’re playing sports, exercising, walking, or just being under the sun, hydration is not just important when it comes to physical activity. “In hotter weather you lose more fluids so on those days you need to hydrate more,” Grant said. This advice is not only applicable to active people but to anyone who is simply spending time in the heat. At the point in which you feel thirsty, you’re body is already dehydrated.

For all the summer athletes out there, there are a dubious amount of different sports drinks from Gatorade to Powerade that don’t necessarily bring the same results as just drinking plain water. “Water is the best way to hydrate but sports drinks do offer benefits,” Grant said. Sports drinks are more beneficial for activities that last longer, as they supply the body with the energy needed in order to keep going. “Sports drinks aren’t necessarily good for you, but they are effective if you are being active for over fifteen minutes because then you use up all the short supply sugars in your muscles and you start going into the long term muscle sugars,” said nutritionist Jarrod Pagan. However, there is a point during exercise when energy drinks such as Gatorade or Propel can become helpful, in addition to simply staying hydrated.  “Any type of sports drink with sugar and electrolytes will be processed right away by your body during physical activity,” Pagan said. Nevertheless, water is always the best for keeping the body hydrated and there is no way around that. Sports drinks merely provide the body with extra energy during sports or any type of physical activity that is more strenuous. “If you look at athletes who are performing long term versus drinking stuff that has carbohydrates in it, the athletes drinking stuff with carbs will have energy for longer than those just drinking water,” Pagan said.

Over a long period of time, dehydration can lead to more serious results damaging to your health. “Some of the long term effects of dehydration include fever, or loss of conscious or delirium, confusion, inability to keep fluids down, vomiting,” said Grant. If you see any of these symptoms then you definitely want to seek a physician’s advice or see a doctor right away.”

The importance of the consuming the necessary amount of water for the body is quite often underestimated, as dehydration can have a titanic effects to you heath, both explicit and implicit. Remember, pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine. So as summer rolls around and you begin to find yourself spending your days doing outdoor activities, don’t forget to keep that water bottle close at hand.