Water is one of the most essential components of the human
body. Water regulates the body’s temperature, cushions and protects vital
organs, and aids the digestive system. Water not only composes 75 percent of all
muscle tissue and about 10 percent of fatty tissue, it also acts within each
cell to transport nutrients and dispel waste. And, because water composes more
than half of the human body, it is impossible to sustain life for more than a
week without it.
Necessary to the healthy function of all internal organs,
water must be consumed to replace the amount lost each day during basic
activities. In 2004 the Food and Nutrition Board released new dietary reference
intakes for water. It is recommended that women consume 2.7 liters (91 oz) daily
and men consume 3.7 liters (125 oz) through various beverages (80%) or in food
(20%). Active individuals need even more, particularly if they’re exercising in
hot weather. This is especially important during the 24 hours prior to vigorous
exercise. You can meet your body’s water needs over the course of a day through
a variety of fluids and foods including juices, soda, smoothies, tea, lemonade,
soups, fruits and vegetables.
In one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending
on exercise intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the
body to cool itself through perspiration, the body enters a state of
For regular exercisers maintaining a constant supply of water
in the body is essential to performance. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and
loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic
In a dehydrated state the body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to
heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water
the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps.
To prevent dehydration, exercisers must drink before, during and after the
Fluid Balance and Replenishment
It is important to drink even before signs of thirst appear.
Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. It is
important to drink more than thirst demands and to continue to drink throughout
the day. One way to check your hydration level is to monitor your urine. It
should be plentiful and pale yellow unless you are taking supplements, which
will darken the color for several hours after consumption.
During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals,
although sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes during high intensity
exercise exceeding 45 to 60 minutes. Individuals who sweat profusely during
exercise and whose sweat contains a high amount of sodium (you may notice salt
stains/rings on your athletic wear) should choose sports drinks and ensure that
their diet contains adequate sodium to prevent hyponatremia (water
intoxication). Contrary to popular belief, scientific evidence suggests that
moderate caffeine intake does NOT compromise exercise performance or hydration
status. However, alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery from
exercise and negatively affect a variety of performance variables.
It is easy to prevent dehydration with a variety of refreshing beverages, so
Dry Winter Skin: How to Deal with it
Your skin in winter can become very dry - even to the point of being painful.
I myself began feeling the effects of the cooler weather in early October. It
usually doesn't hit me this hard but this year I'm having a real difficult time
with it. My lips became tender and chapped, and I had to switch to a different
formula of daily facial cleanser because the exfoliating beads in my current
cleanser were irritating my skin. My face became red and flushed. I'll have to
limit my daily exfoliation to just twice a week. Also my hands and feet became
Ah, winter. It can be so peaceful yet so unforgiving. Indoors you're subjected
to dry heat and outdoors you're bombarded with harsh winter UV rays from the sun
and chilling winds. Yes, the sun's rays are still just as dangerous as they are
in the summer and they will reflect off any snowy surfaces, bouncing the rays
right back on to you. You're going to need a good facial moisturizer with SPF in
Here are some more tips to help you combat dry winter skin:
1)Use a lip balm (preferably with SPF) and do not lick your lips under any
circumstances. That just makes it worse.
2)Keep your hands moisturized with a good quality hand cream. Make sure you have
a tube of hand cream with you at all times.
3)Drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a dehydrator.
4)Buy a humidifier if you don't already have one. It may help keep your heating
bills down as well. You know, the whole heat and humidity thing. Think Amazon
5)Use a shower filter. It will filter out the skin-drying chlorine in your tap
water. Avoid using hot water in the shower even though it feels so good on a
cold winter morning. It will only strip your skin of its natural oils and cause
water to evaporate more quickly. Use warm water only. Also, it pays to switch
from soap which can dry the skin, to a silky body wash which will help your skin
retain moisture. Pat your skin dry when exiting the shower, don't rub. Apply a
nice moisturizer while your skin is still damp to help seal in moisture.
When the humidity drops to 50 percent or less, you will need to pay even more
attention to your moisturization routine. Stay away from harsh scrubs or
cleansers since they will eliminate most of the skin's oils and dry your skin
out more easily. This applies to skin care products as well as cleaning
My favorite winter skin care tip is before you go to bed, apply a thick, rich
moisturizer to your feet, concentrating on the heel area. Then put on a nice
cushy pair of socks. When you wake up your feet will be soft and smooth and
Not paying attention to extremely dry skin can lead to health issues and act as
a welcome mat for rashes and skin infections. So take good care of your skin and
enjoy your winter!