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.

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.

The arrival of winter. A look back at the summer of 2018.

The weather has finally turned colder here in the UK. Unlike the majority of people I know, the winter is actually my favourite season. I love the cold, misty mornings; snow is the greatest thing ever and I even love the slight smell you get when the heating is on. All that being said, I have attempted to enjoy the warmer weather we have had this year. After all, summer has got its good points, for one, everybody else loves it and cricket, cricket is ace.

Below is a selection of photographs looking back over my summer 2018.

Creating a stess reducing playlist

The effects of music on the brain are well known and have been documented by scientists for years. Listening to music is known to activate our whole brains, so the potential for it to modify our moods is great.

By thoughtfully selecting music, you can create playlists that will allow you to combat stress, evoke positive emotions, increase relaxation as well as many other positve benefits. The starting point is to determine what your current state of mind is and what you would like to acheive instead. Using this goal, it is important to gradually build in the change, starting with songs that empathise with your current mood; before slowly building towards your goal.

Using familiar music is a good place to start here. Songs that you are used to listening to will evoke certain emotional responses based on your previous associations with them. Memories are stimulated by music, therefore we can be transported back in time in an instant through music. Based on your ideas of songs that you know have a certain impact on your mood, suppliment them with songs that have similar characteristics.

One important thing is to never use music you don’t like. This is only going to have a negative impact on your mood. If, after creating your playlist, you find you don’t react the way you intended to a certain piece of music, remove it.

If you are using music to try to relax, consider using instrumental music. When listening to songs with lyrics, we use a lot of our brains trying to process these lyrics. Lyrics can also increase the stimulation of memories which may not be what you want when trying to relax.

The most important thing is to trust your own music intuaition. You will have almost certainly discovered songs in the past that make you cry, or ones that motivate you to push a little bit harder while exercising. If this is the case then you are already aware of the huge impact that music can have on your brain. Trust in this knowledge and you will be able to harness the power of music to cmobat stress, improve your motivation or help you relax.