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How much water should you drink?

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Did you know that up to 60% of the human body is made up of water?  The brain is composed of 70% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water; and, 83% of our blood is actually water.  Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that water is important for our health.  

How may glasses of water have you had today? One? Two? Maybe even three? One glass of water is 8 full ounces, and the recommended daily intake is 8 glasses for women and up to 13 glasses for men. However, modification of these recommendations may be necessary depending on the following factors: Exercise, Environment, Illness/Health.image

It's easy to realize that the more you exercise, the more you need to drink in order to replace fluid loss and prevent dehydration. 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water should be sufficient for short periods of exercise (less than one hour).  If you are exercising for greater than one hour, prevent excessive fluid loss by drinking a sports drink with sodium.

Environment can also play a role in your daily fluid intake requirement. One who lives in a hot and humid environment will sweat more,requiring more hydration, while someone living at an altitude above 8200 feet may experience more water loss from frequent urination and a faster rate of breathing, therefore needing less fluid.

Illnesses that cause fever, diarrhea, and/or vomiting, will result in a loss of additional fluids. Therefore, more water must be consumed in order to prevent further dehydration. Bladder and urinary tract infections are examples of conditions that require one to drink more fluids.  Conversely, someone with heart failure or kidney disease that impairs water excretion will be advised to limit daily fluid intake.

When trying to reach your daily water intake of 8 glasses, realize that other fluids can count towards your total. Milk, juices, beer, wine, and coffee all contain water. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages should not be a major portion of your daily fluid intake,  as they are diuretics.  Additionally, your daily food intake can provide up to 20% of the daily recommended water intake.

Contributed by Kerri Krieger, DPT at the West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center

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