How much water should you be drinking? 

This week over in Edinburgh one topic keeps cropping up …. how much water should you be drinking? 

We all know we should be drinking more water, but how much more? 

And really, what for?

The advice varies from source to source, however, a good judge is calculating 24ml of water per kg of body weight.  Add a further 500mls for doing your physio exercises per day. 

So for a 70kg adult that’s 1680ml + 500mls for exercise = 2100ml of water a day.

But why? 

We know from beauty magazines that maintaining hydrated helps to aid weight loss and to keep your skin looking young. But what you might not know is that drinking more water is good for your muscles, your brain and your tummy. 

Being hydrated is very important when exercising. Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramps and lubricates the joints in your body.  Drinking water can actually make your muscles stronger. Being well hydrated enables your muscles to work longer and harder before they feel tired. This helps build the muscles you are working on during your physiotherapy sessions. 

Physical training instructor for the Royal Air Force Cpl Jamie Hagan says that “performance dramatically improves when you hydrate correctly before, during and after exercise” and that to “expect improvements when you start drinking enough water”.  

Since your brain is made up of around 75% water it’s a ‘no-brainer’ that it too needs to keep well hydrated. It has been found that by establishing adequate hydration some people found that it improved their memory problems. Drinking the right amount of water also is known to improve concentration and cognition, help balances your mood and emotions, maintain memory function, increase blood flow and oxygen to your brain, prevent and relieve headaches and reduce stress. 

Lastly, let’s not forget about our bladder and bowels. Drinking water helps maintain bowel frequency and prevent constipation. This is a common side effect when taking medication in addition to not moving around as much as you are use to. The most familiar resistance to increasing fluid intake is “I don’t want to drink more because I will just have to rush to the toilet more”. Kimberley Robinson, Specialist Women’s Health Physio in London says this is not necessarily the case. “If you have not drunk enough water then your urine will consist of a high concentration of toxins that irritate the bladder to make you feel you need to use the bathroom before you actually do”. By drinking your fluid at a slower steady pace throughout the day your body will have more time to absorb the fluid it needs rather than discarding it all into your bladder.

So, here’s the challenge. Up your water intake. Talk about it with your physio. Encourage your family to take the challenge too. Add a little diluting juice to your water, or even a slice of cucumber or a sprig of mint. Keep a bottle of water by your chair, your work station, your bed and don’t forget your water bottle at your next physio/rehab sessions. Small changes make a big difference.

Katey McPherson, Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist, Edinburgh.