The benefits of water. According to science.

The human body is roughly 60% water. The common recommendation is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This particular figure does not have a great deal of science behind it, staying hydrated is however important.

Here are a selection of evidence-based health benefits of staying hydrated.

Maximum physical performance.

Physical performance can suffer greatly from a lack of hydration.

During intense exercise or while exercising in high heat this is even more the case.

Losing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can have a noticeable effect on you. It is not uncommon for athletes to lose anywhere up to 10% of their water weight through sweating, therefore adequate hydration is vital.

Even though the body as a whole is 60% water, muscle is around 80%, so water intake is far more important when the muscles are being worked hard.

Help with weight loss.

Drinking half a litre of water has been shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to an hour and a half after drinking it.

That means that drinking 2 litres of water a day can up your energy expenditure by almost 100 calories per day.

Drinking water half an hour before a meal has been shown to decrease the the amount of food you eat at meal times by making you feel fuller. In one study, dieters who drank half a litre of water before meals lost an average of 44% more weight over the course of 12 weeks.

For the biggest benefit, water should be drunk cold. This way the body burns more calories to heat the water to body temperature.

Brain function.

Fluid loss of as little as 1.3% has been shown to impair brain function. Especially affected are concentration and mood. Other studies have shown that similar levels of fluid loss have had a detrimental affect on working memory and increased feelings of fatigue and anxiety.

Loss levels this low are to be expected in just day to day life, if putting high heat and exercise into the mix it is clear that improper hydration can have big effects on your health.

Further reading.

Below are some links to some of the studies and evidence mentioned in this post.

NCBI – Hydration and physical performance

NCBI – Water, Hydration and health

NCBI – Dehydration influences mood and cognition

NCBI – water induced thermogenesis

Nutrition.org – Healthy hydration guide

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Fall in love with running.

So many people have told me that they hate running. This is something that is completely at odds with my view of the activity. I love running, though this was not always the case. I have always been good at running, but for a long time it felt like a chore. Like something that I knew would benefit me, but that I did not really feel like doing ever.

5 minutes into a run I would find myself looking at my watch, bored, wondering if I could just give up now there and then. The key to falling in love with running is to defeat this boredom factor.

I first found myself enjoying running when I started to properly challenge myself. I don’t mean setting myself overly difficult goals. Starting out with nice achievable yet challenging goals is a great way to add some interest into your running. Setting a time, maybe as little as 10 minutes, and trying to push to run further each time can be a fun little challenge. This sort of running has the added benefit of making improvement easy to follow.

Using achievable goals makes you feel great when you reach them. Setting goals that are too challenging has the opposite effect and is often what puts off new runners. When starting out, establishing a habit is the key thing. Use these small goals to help you make a habit of running, once you have that, committing to your first big milestone is the next step.

Some people also find that running in a group is a great way to add motivation. Group running has many benefits, the other members will help push you towards your goals and it is great from a social standpoint. I have personally always struggled with group running, I have found the differences in pacing to be difficult to get around. Group exercising of other types however, I have found to be very effective, so I feel that as long as the group members have a similar level of ability there is benefit to be had.

So, if you are someone that thinks they hate running, maybe give it another chance. Pop out with a group of people and set yourself an achievable goal and most importantly don’t give up.

What am I listening to.

Music is one of the most important things in my life. Throughout all of the best and worst times, music has been there. It is capable of both changing my mood almost instantly and reflecting my feelings so perfectly.

As a child of the early 90s, I grew up with a love of pop-punk. Green day, Blink-182, Jimmy eat world; these are the soundtrack of my life. Like most people as I’ve grown older a wider variety of styles have begun to appeal to me. The grandiose sound of Angels and Airwaves is a particular favourite, although that might owe a lot to my love of a certain Tom Delonge.

My current go to album though, is one that is a bit of a left field choice for myself. A group that I have only recently discovered. Pale Waves’ Mind makes noises is this album. There is a strong mix of melodic female vocals, strong thumping bass lines and grand, distorted guitars. This mixed with just the right amount of electronic sounds and a subtle Cure like element make them one of the more interesting bands I have come across lately.

I was first made aware of this act when I heard a cover they did of Dua Lipa’s One kiss in the Radio 1 live lounge. The original song is not one I am personally in to, but I loved the cover.

Freezing shower – Update

A while ago I posed a question, based on research that I had read, weather there is any benefit with regards to mental heath of turning the shower to cold for a few seconds before getting out.

See the original post here: Freezing shower?

I have now been doing this for a couple of months at the end of every shower that I have. My initial response to doing this was that it was very uncomfortable and a wholly unpleasant experience. This view did not last long. I quickly began to love the initial shock that hits when the water first turns cold. This is such a good way to wake up in the morning, or cool down in the evening or after working out. The physiological benefits are, as far as my experience goes, huge. I have felt so much more awake every day since doing this, mornings have never been my thing but I am growing into them. My recovery from intense exercise has been far more effective and the instance of niggling injury has been far lower. I feel like I have been able to push myself harder, both in working out and in the workplace.

Going back to my initial question however; does this benefit your mental health, I am struggling to answer this. It could be the case that an improvement in my metal state has lead to these physiological benefits, in effect a psychosomatic benefit. It could also be the case that the physical improvements have lead to psychological benefits. It could even be that some other change that I have made has made all of the difference and that this exercise is actually pointless. Whatever the true cause of my improved mental and physical state, I cannot deny that the timing has coincided with me trying this.

I can honestly say that this is something that I will be continuing.


 

The information discussed in this post is based entirely on my own experience. I would always recommend anyone suffering from a mental health condition should seek the advice of a trained professional.

What’s in my gym bag?

I love going to the gym and getting stuck into a good workout. There are a few things I ensure I always have with me when I am at the gym.

1: The bag itself.

While many people use a bag designed for this very purpose, I chose to use a free drawstring bag that I got on holiday a couple of years ago. I got this bag while on holiday skiing a couple of years ago. It does its job and that’s all I can ask for.

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2: Wireless earphones.

For a long time I used a normal pair of wired earphones and, although these did the job, I spent most of my warm-up time trying to untangle the cord. I now use a pair of Bluetooth earphones. I love listening to music or podcasts while working out, so a good pair of earphones is essential.

3: Towel.

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this. I use a small towel to wipe down the equipment after I have used it. Nobody wants to use exercise equipment that is covered in someone else’s sweat.

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4: Training shoes.

I actually have a few different pairs of trainers that I take to the gym depending on what sort of exercises I am going to be doing. I will use different shoes if doing cardio work compared to when I am doing strength work.

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5: Spare t-shirt

It’s always nice to put a fresh shirt on after working out. Even though I tend to shower at home after the gym, not at the gym itself. I still feel a bit fresher with a clean shirt on while making my way home.

6: Refillable drinks bottle.

Keeping hydrated is obviously very important always, but even more so while exercising. I don’t really like using the water fountains provided at the gym, so use my own bottle that I can refill while there if necessary.

7: Deodorant.

This is useful for a quick refresh after a workout. It is only good for making me feel a little less sticky for the half an hour or so between finishing my workout and hitting the shower.