Time for Another Goal! How about a Marathon? Or Half?

The Fall and Winter Marathon seasons are fast approaching, and organizations that train both seasoned and beginning runners are gearing up for a busy fall schedule.  The urge to begin a new, challenging goal has been nagging at me for a while and so I decided to ‘run’ for it!  Houston Fit, an award-winning training program for anyone wanting to run a full or half marathon, started their season a few weeks ago and I signed up!  Full Marathon – NO!  Half Marathon – YES!  I needed a new goal for myself and running a half marathon seemed the perfect thing for me.

Houston Fit Participants

Did I need to join an organization like Houston Fit in order to train for a Half Marathon?  No, except for the fact that I needed some motivation.  I am a loner by habit.  I run alone.  I compete alone.  I am also an extravert.  I need to be around people.  I find it difficult to just walk up to someone and start talking.  But once I do, watch out!  I gab a mile a minute.  Joining Houston Fit was a good way for me to be around people, run with people, compete with people, and motivate myself to stick with the training program and finish the race.  Not only am I learning about how to train for a marathon through their daily schedule of activities, but I also attend their Saturday morning seminars that are held after the morning runs.  Their topics include nutrition, hydration, sport injuries, proper running shoes, and Core exercises, to name just a few.  I love learning and really enjoy the topics.

The primary way I find to keep myself motivated, to stick with the training regimen, is to Run for A Reason.  I feel that I can finish my goal if I know someone is depending on me to do just that.  So I signed up to raise funds for my charity, Child Advocates, Inc.  Not only am I a runner, weight-lifter, fitness buff, and a computer programmer, I am also a volunteer as a Court Appointed Advocate for children who have been removed from their homes because of child abuse.  This organization, Child Advocates, is there for children who would otherwise be forgotten by the system.  I am running to raise funds for Child Advocates, for my three children that I am monitoring before final placement, for all the children that are being helped through this wonderful organization.  You can help me by learning more about Child Advocates, Inc.  and by helping me reach my fundraising goals.  Not only am I running to reach my goal of completing the Half Marathon in January 2012, I am also running for my children!  You can be a part of that goal by checking out my link:

Valerie’s Aramco Houston Half Marathon Donation Page

Kayaking Is A Blast!

Are you ready to find a challenging goal for yourself?  It can be running, kayaking, horseback riding…anything your heart desires!  Don’t be afraid!  Go for it !  Live life!  Reach for the stars!

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The Hamstring Stretch – Ahhhhhh!

Tight hamstring muscles are a very common occurrence for people who have desk jobs.   Even for those who don’t have desk jobs, tight muscles at the back of the thigh are a nuisance.  Are your hamstrings tight?  To find out, try this:

Stand up, bend forward at the waist, and try to touch  your fingertips to your toes without bending your knees. If you can’t, then your hamstrings — the three muscles that originate at the glutes, run along the backs of your thighs and attach to your tibia (shinbone) — are probably tighter than they should  be.

If you have tight hamstrings, then you have an elevated risk for low-back pain and knee injuries, and your performance in sports and exercise may be compromised.

Why should you care?

Well, tight hamstrings are often an indication of weak lower-abdominal muscles and/or weak lower-back muscles.   All three of these muscle groups — the lower abdominals, the low-back muscles and the hamstrings — attach to the pelvis. The lower-abdominal and low-back muscles tend to tilt the pelvis forward, while the hamstrings tend to tilt the pelvis backward. If either the lower-abdominal muscles or the low-back muscles are weak (both common ailments), these muscles can’t counterbalance the pull of the hamstrings, which will shorten and tighten as they tilt the pelvis backward.  Too-tight hamstrings pull back on the pelvic bone, placing strain on the lower back.

Keep in mind that to have strong muscles of any kind, you need strengthening exercises.   But since our focus here is on stretching, I am assuming that you regularly perform some sort of exercise and that we are now focusing on the importance of stretching AFTER a strenthening or aerobic exercise of some kind.

And so now, to solve this issue of tight hamstrings, we continue with prevention:  Stretching!  The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really applies here.  Keep those hamstrings in tip-top form by stretching.  And after any strengthening exercise, stretching these muscles helps to remove lactic acid and allows the muscle to relax and promotes better flexibility.

Some Cautions:

Rule number one in stretching: do not bounce.  It’s a common mistake, but bouncing risks pulling or tearing the muscle you’re trying to stretch and relax.  Muscles must be stretched gradually.  If a stretch is applied too quickly, the muscle responds with a strong contraction, increasing tension.  If the stretch is applied slowly, however, this contraction reflex is avoided, muscle tension falls, and you may stretch the muscle further.  The lesson here: stretch slowly and hold the stretch for 30 to 40 seconds.

Do not stretch beyond the point where you begin to feel tightness in the muscle.  Do not push through muscle resistance, and never stretch to the point of discomfort or pain.

So here are four easy Hamstring stretches:

Exercise #1

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight.
  2. Extend your arms and reach forward by bending at the waist as far as possible while keeping your knees straight.
  3. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  4. Relax.
  5. Repeat.

Exercise #2

  1. Sit on the floor with one leg out straight.
  2. Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of that foot against your opposite inner thigh.
  3. Extend your arms and reach forward over the one straight leg by bending at the waist as far as possible.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

Exercise #3

  1. Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left.
  2. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee by bending at the waist.
  3. Keep both knees straight.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat by crossing your left foot in front of your right.

Perfect!  There you have it!  Hamstring stretches and three varieties to choose from!  Now, go out for a run, a walk, or any other form of aerobic exercise or strength training and then stretch!  Watch your flexibility blossom!

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Quad Stretch – It’s a Winner…

Proper execution of the Quadricep Stretch is our goal for today.  And after going over two of the ten stretches on our list, you might be wondering ‘Why are we doing this?  Is stretching really that important?’

Stretching is important for the overall health of your body.  It keeps your tendons supple, and your muscles strong.  Tendons support the joints and strong tendons mean healthy joints.  Healthy joints mean free movement and little to no stiffness.  We need healthy joints for pain-free and smooth movement later in life.  Keep your body youthful with this simple stretching routine.  Pay attention to form.  Proper form is important.  Poor form can actually lead to injury.

Quadriceps

The quadriceps (quads) are a group of muscles along the front of the thigh. They consist of four muscles: the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius.   This muscle group extends the leg while straightening the knee and is a primary mover in stair climbing and cycling.  Injuries to the quadriceps are often caused by a strength or flexibility imbalance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings.

Now that you know what the quadrieps are, how do we stretch them?

1.  Stand on one leg (grab onto something solid if you need support).

2.  Bend your knee and bring your heel toward your butt.

3.  Grasp your ankle with your hand.

4.  Stand up straight, shoulders back, core pulled in tight, and feel a slight pull along the front of your thigh and hip.

5.  Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.  Remember to breathe through the stretch.

6.  Be careful not to strain your knee – the goal is not to touch your heel to your backend, but rather to stretch the thigh.  Hold on to your ankle, NOT your toes!

Fabulous!  Next time:  The Hamstring Stretch!  In the meantime, you have  three stretches to work on:  The Runner’s Lunge, The Side Lunge, and the Quadricep Stretch.  Have fun!

 

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Stretching? – It’s time for the SIDE LUNGE!

Side Lunge
A version of the Side Lunge

In my last post about stretching, we focused on the Runner’s Lunge.  Have you practiced it?  GOOD!  With continued stretching of just minutes a day, your hip flexor muscles will improve their flexibility, becoming supple and pliant, and less like beef jerky.  The key is to perform this stretch Every Day!  Now we’ll learn the complement of the Runner’s Lunge: the Side Lunge.

For this second in the series of stretching exercises, we need to understand what the Side Lunge does.  The Side Lunge works the inner and outer thighs, hips, glutes and indirectly works the calves as well.  The main stretch, however, occurs at the inner thigh.

Man performing a side lungeTo perform the Side Lunge:

1.  Stand with feet parallel and facing forward, shoulder-width apart.  Place your hands where they will help you balance yourself, either resting on your hips or held out in front of you.  Stand tall and pull in your core muscles to ‘brace’ yourself.  Pulling in your core helps with balance and with the ability to isolate the muscles you will be stretching.

2.  Keep your face forward, eyes looking ahead.  Shift your weight into your heels.

3.  Inhale and then step lightly to the left with your right foot, keeping your left foot firmly planted in place.  Keep your weight in your heels and feet facing forward.

4.  Once your right foot is firmly placed on the floor, bend at the hips, pushing
them backwards while simultaneously shifting your weight towards the right foot.
Continue shifting your weight over the right foot until your shinbone (tibia) is
vertical to the floor and your right knee is aligned directly over your right foot. The right knee should NEVER extend over the right foot.  Your left leg should be near, or at full extension at the knee and your body weight should still be distributed into the right hip.  You will feel a slight tension in the inner thigh of the left leg.   At this point, ‘Think’ about these muscles (inner thighs) as you stretch them.  Focus on them.  Believe it or not, this mental focusing will concentrate power on the muscle group and will give you a more efficient stretch.

5.   The heels of both feet should stay flat on the floor.  Feel free to position your arms where necessary to help maintain your  balance.  Reaching for your right foot with your left hand will emphasize hip flexion.

6.  Hold this position, for a count of 30 seconds.  Feel the stretch and breathe!  Do NOT bounce!

7.  Exhale and push off firmly with your right leg, returning your body to your  starting position.

8.  Repeat the movement for the opposite side.  Remember to use the right hand to reach for the left foot in order to facilitate hip flexion.

Helpful Hints:  A common mistake when performing a side lunge is that people often step too wide and are unable to align the shinbone over the placed foot, causing the knee to fall inside the foot. If you find that your stance is too wide, simply shorten the width of the step taken to allow proper placement of shinbone over the foot.

Keep heels flat on the floor.  Flat heels also help you to hold your balance and avoid knee or ankle injury.

If, during the exercise, you feel tension in the lower back, then round the back just a little.  The relief will be instantaneous.

Runner’s Lunge:  Check!  Side Lunge: Check!  Next time: Quadricep Stretch!

Time to relax!

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Stretching – Such an Aggravation!

Stretching!  Either you love it or you hate it!  It’s a cloud hovering over your head:  you know that you need to stretch in order to maintain joint flexibility and health, yet you either dread it and avoid stretching completely or you whiz right through it, barely taking any time at all.

Why bother?

Our bodies, masterpieces of creation that they are, consist of an intricately interconnected web of tendons and tissue called fascia. It’s a sheath that, among other things, allows us to coordinate movement.  When we are young, that tissue called fascia is smooth and supple and fits like a body suit.  As we age and with habitual movement or disuse, that tissue becomes hard like beef jerky.  It becomes dry and dehydrated and resists movement.  We become stiff, unable to move smoothly any longer.  A classic sign is the markedly stiff walking gait of the aged, commonly reached now by those in their 40s and 50s!  The old cliche, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it” really does apply here.  Keeping yourself flexible will avoid or reverse that stiffness.

We may think that our accumulating aches and pains are coming from individual joints, muscles and old injuries. But no!  These are warning signs from an entire body system that is beginning to break down.  PAY ATTENTION!  You can stop the downward spiral.  Make time to stretch and care for those tendons that you will need for free movement later in life.  Do NOT postpone it!  Get started NOW!   I’ve provided a good stretching routine that takes about ten minutes to perform.

1. Runner’s Lunge
2. Side Lunge
3. Quadricep Stretch
4. Hamstring Stretch
5. Gastroc Stretch (calf)
6. Soleus Stretch (calf)
7. Toe Lift
8. Gluteus Stretch
9. Spinal twist
10. Butterfly Stretch

We’ll first start with the Runner’s Lunge.  This stretch targets the hip flexor muscles.  These muscles run across the front of the hip, through the pelvis, and rotate the lower spine.  The hip flexors can get very tight because they get a lot of use, plus, if you sit all day, these muscles get even tighter.  The hip flexors are the muscles that lift the knee, or move your knee forward when you go up stairs, walk, run, or do just about any forward movement.  Because this muscle group attaches to your lower back area, tight hip flexors can cause low back pain.  Here’s how to do the runner’s lunge to stretch this muscle group.

1. Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart, left foot behind you, right foot ahead of you.

2. Inhale and, just as you exhale, bend both knees, descending slowly until you can put both hands on the floor directly behind your right knee.

3. Slide your left leg back far enough so you can lower your knee to the floor without putting weight on your kneecap.

4. Inhale again, and as you exhale, gently press the hip of your left leg toward the floor.

5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply.

6. Repeat the same stretch on the right side.

During this stretch, keep your shoulders down and chest held high.  Hold your front knee straight and at a right angle, keeping it directly above your front foot.  Do not bounce but progress slowly and gradually.  Be careful of the back kneecap (unlike the picture on the left!), by putting your weight on the soft tissue of your back leg just above that kneecap.

Tomorrow:  The Side Lunge.

 

 

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Need Some Excitement? Try the Warrior Dash!

As we progress through our fitness routine, we may feel the need to add a little spice.  Of course, we could try a 5K or 10K fun run, bike the MS150, or plan for our next Sprint Triathalon.

But how about something a little more daring?

I just ran the Warrior Dash this Saturday in Conroe, Texas.  What a blast that was!  The Warrior Dash is advertised as “a mud-crawling, fire-leaping extreme run from hell; a fierce running series held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe.  Warriors encounter extreme obstacles, push their limits, and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer, and warrior helmets”.   I concur!

Starting Line

The Warrior Dash is a 3 mile obstacle course, held in 30 minute waves, that is organized and held throughout various parts of the country throughout the year.  I’ve run in two so far: one in Dallas last April, and now the Conroe Warrior Dash, held this past Saturday, 3/19/2011.  The obstacles vary by location but usually include the following:

  • Texas Tornado – Resist gale force winds as you enter tornado alley.
  • Knee High Hell – Speed step through hundred of tires.
  • Hay Fever – Hussle up and over giant straw bales.
  • Rio Run – Dash down river.
  • Sand Trap – Trek through mounds of sand.
  • Hell’s Hill – Sprint to the Summit.
  • Satan’s Slope – Skid down the muddy slope.
  • Cargo Climb – Maneuver over the cargo nets.
  • Deadweight Drifter – Trudge through waist deep water and over the logs!
  • Warrior Roast – Leap over the Warrior fires!
  • Muddy Mayhem – Scramble beneath barbed wire as you near the finish!
The Mud Pit

Barbed Wire! YIKES!

Yes, all of these were present, plus one more:  A dark tunnel where everyone had to get down on hands and knees and crawl through.  There were black sheets hanging in front of you every few feet or so which made the interior extremely dark.  Some people freaked.  Their natural instinct kicked in and they felt an urgent need to back out.  But an encouraging word from others got them back down and through the tunnel.  It was an AMAZING day!  These obstacles were a blast!  The adrenaline was flowing!

Yes, it’s an obstacle course, but it is also a run, and so a lot of people will compete trying to obtain a new PR (personal record) time.  I, for one, just want to enjoy each obstacle as they come.  I am not trying to achieve a personal record or best time because I don’t know what each obstacle will entail and I want to avoid injury.  I believe in enjoying the moment, feeling the excitement and energy welling up all around me!

Jump The Fire!

The best parts for me were crawling into and out of the dark tunnel, climbing over the cargo nets, jumping the fire, and crawling through the mud pit under barbed wire.   What a rush!

And hearing my daughter Keri cheer me on was fabulous!  Thanks, Keri!

At the end of the race, you are covered in mud when you receive your finisher’s medal.  Reaching for a banana and glass of water, you refuel before heading to the power washer to blast the mud off your body. 

After the race, it’s time to relax.  There is plenty of beer, bratwurst, turkey legs and other viddles for all the hungry warriors and their families.   Once you are stocked up with beer and food, you can find a spot to relax on the lawn and listen to awesome rock bands performing live on a stage shaped like a gigantic warrior helmet.  A humongous LED video screen is also set up displaying live feed of warriors going over and through obstacles.  Many people dress up in costume for the Warrior Dash.  It is all GREAT entertainment.  My favorite costumes were from a group of men dressed as Rob Roy warriors, kilts and all.  You can spend the rest of your day there with family and friends, people-watching, eating, drinking and enjoying the fabulous music. 

So, if you are looking for a goal for your fitness routine, a reason for all that time in the gym, check out the Warrior Dash!

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Got Stress? – Go T’ai Chi Chih!

Feeling stressed?  Too much going on in your week?  Too many deadlines to meet?  Anxious?  Not able to sleep?  Heart racing?

Everyday life is full of hassles, frustrations, deadlines, and demands.  In small doses, these stresses can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when the demand is overwhelming, just too much to bear, and you feel like you are constantly running in emergency mode, the body and the mind will pay the price.  So if you are frequently feeling frazzled and overwhelmed with life, it is time to restore balance. 

How do you restore that balance? 

Modify your workout to include not only stretching, cardio, weight training, and a core strength routine, but also at least one form of exercise known to relieve stress.  Examples of stress reducing activities might include meditation, yoga, or T’ai Chi Chih. 

T'ai Chi Chih relieves stress

I prefer T’ai Chi Chih.

Unlike yoga or meditation which require stillness and resting in a singular position for particular amount of time, T’ai Chi Chih is meditation in slow movement.  It consists of 19 gentle, graceful movements and one pose that can be done by almost anyone.  It is descended from Martial Arts, yet it is non-martial movements dedicated to the circulation and balancing of the Chi, the energy that each person has within their body.  T’ai Chi Chih can be learned by anyone, through a class, book or DVD.  

T’ai Chi Chih does not require a particular level of physical fitness or coordination. The very old and very young alike can learn it.  For those with physical limitations, movements may be done seated – with some modification.  No special clothing or equipment is required.

Why do I enjoy T’ai Chi Chih?  Because it is Movement, but movement that is calming, centering, and creates peace in the heart.  Actually, T’ai Chih is known to lower the heart rate and blood pressure.  It also circulates body energy so that as you perform the movements, you feel warmth emanating from the fingertips: a pleasant, tingling feeling.

The regular practice of T’ai Chi Chih increases physical energy, and improves balance, flexibility and stamina, particularly in the older population.  T’ai Chi Chih removes stress from the body and leaves you feeling calm and peaceful.

I prefer to practice the following movements because, for me, they are easy and feel most comforting: 

  • Rocking Motion
  • Bird Flaps Its Wings
  • Around the Platter
  • Bass Drum
  • Daughter on the Mountaintop
  • Daughter in the Valley
  • Carry the Ball to the Side
  • Push Pull
  • Pulling in the Energy
  • Cosmic Pose

If you are interested in learning about T’ai Chi Chuh and how to practice it, contact me through the Comment Section of this blog and I will be happy to help you on your way to experience this “Joy Thru Movement”.

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Start Simple To See Results

Are you on track for your goals of January 2011?  Seeing Results?  Are you getting to the gym?  Are you Running?

Don’t give up on your 2011 Resolutions.  Here are five easy steps you must take to help you see quick results.  Stick with it!

Breakfast of Champions!

1.  Eat Breakfast Every Morning – Breakfast is the Elixir of Champions.  It is the most important meal of the day.  Eating a healthy breakfast will increase your metabolism by up to 25% for the rest of the day.  That in itself should be enough motivation to eat that morning chow!

2. Add Resistance Training – I cannot stress enough how important a weight routine is to your health as well as your fitness goals.  Weight training builds lean muscle.  Muscle burns fat!  You will look toned and beautiful with more muscle on your body and you will lose excess fat.  No more flab!  Balance cardio workouts with resistance training to get the body of your dreams.

Weight Routine

3.  GO TO THE GYM!  – If you are like a lot of people, getting into the gym is the hardest part of exercising.  Make the gym easy to get to by driving to one on the way to work, on the way home, on the way to school or to church.  However  you do it, make stopping at the gym a part of a normal routine.  Because once you are in the gym, you will become motivated to workout.  Don’t let the front door by the heaviest thing you lift each day.  Build good workout habits. 

4.  Rehydrate, Replenish, and Refuel:  After a great workout, you have to put back into your body the vital nutrients you have used up to allow your body time to recover and improve.  Water, vitamins, Protein, and Carbohydrates are critical after a workout in order to make those fitness goals happen and see results.

5.  Change It Up! – Vary your workouts to shock your system.  If you continue the same workout in the same order day after day, your body will hit a plateau and you will wonder why you are not seeing any improvements in the shape of your body.  That plateau could hit after only a month into your routine.  So change things up a bit each time you come into the gym.  You’ll stay interested in your workout and your body will continue to improve.   Keep your body guessing and have fun!

Another important tip:  It takes 21 days for a new routine to become habit.  Keep up your workouts and soon you will feel  that you HAVE to be in the gym.  Your body, its new physique, and your health will thank you for it.

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Breakfast of Champions

Don't Skip Breakfast!

If you were to ask what was the single most important change you could make to  your daily routine to really enhance the quality of your workout and your health in general, what  do you think that would be?  Simple!

Eat breakfast!

Breakfast is THE most important meal of the day!  Do NOT skip it!

A good breakfast will boost weight control, sports performance, daily energy levels and your future health.  Not only will you feel better, but you will also perform better at work and at the gym, both mentally and physically.  Lots of studies show we perform better on cognitive tests when we eat breakfast.  Whether you work at home, on the farm, at the office, at school, or on the road, it is not a good idea to skip breakfast. Eating a good breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day.

When you skip breakfast, you are likely to become tired when your brain and body run low on fuel. By mid-morning, you might grab a cup of coffee or chow down a candy bar to rev up your energy. That strategy may work for a short while, but by lunch time you are hungry, crabby, and ready to wolf down anything, even that nasty hamburger you swore off your diet only days earlier.  And crabby?  Believe me, no one wants to be around a cranky person!

EATING Breakfast will help you LOSE weight!

So why do so many people WANT to skip breakfast?  Some people skip breakfast because they feel it’s a good way to cut calories and lose weight.   But that is further from the truth.  When you skip breakfast, your body assumes that you are fasting and responds by slowing your metabolism.  Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight; in fact, it will just make you hungrier!  You will be tempted to eat everything in sight. A nutritious breakfast gets you fueled for the day, revs up your metabolism, and helps prevent you from binging later on.

MAKE Time for Breakfast!

Another reason people skip breakfast is time.  Sometimes it just seems easier to skip breakfast than go through the hassle of preparing or even cooking something to eat.  But breakfast does not have to be a lavish creation.  With just a little preparation, breakfast can be fast, easy, and healthy.

What makes a healthy breakfast?

A healthy breakfast should contain protein like eggs, yogurt and cheese, fiber from whole grains and fruit, and carbohydrates to fuel your body and keep you feeling full throughout the morning.

Here are some examples of healthy breakfasts:

A Healthy Breakfast...

  • Serve a quick breakfast of oatmeal, bananas, walnuts and dried fruit.  This breakfast should take only 15 minutes.  PLEASE, make the time!
  • Blend a rich protein smoothie in just two minutes, using yogurt, orange juice, banana, and frozen berries.
  • Layer yogurt, fruit and breakfast cereal to make a yogurt sundae.
  • Scoop 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese into a cantaloupe or honeydew half.
  • Top a bagel with non-fat cream cheese and thin apple or pear slices.
  • Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on toast, bagels, or English muffins. Top with banana slices.

There you go!  With these simple breakfast recipes, you have no excuse NOT to eat breakfast!  You’ll be glad you did!

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The Importance of Water

Water!  We all take fresh water for granted.  It flows freely from the faucets in our homes, is bottled and sold at grocery stores, and is available just about any time we need it.  Water comes into our diet through tea, coffee,  and soft drinks, through milk, fruit juice, and alcoholic drinks like wine.   We scent it, add sugar to it, and even add food coloring.  And because the notion of “Tap” water sounds boring, we contain it in fancy glass bottles, give it fizz and christen it “Perrier”.  On the whole, people do not realize the importance of water to their health. 

Why is water so important?

Drink Your Water!

It is the most essential element for our survival next to the air we breathe.  Water, H20, an atom of oxygen and two of hydrogen, sounds so simple, but without it, we would die within a few days.

The human brain is made up of 95% water, blood 82% and the lungs 90%. A mere 2% drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: headaches, fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing with the eyes. Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. An estimated seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. That’s a pretty scary statistic for a developed country where water is readily available through the tap or bottle.

Water And You!

Why should I care how much water I drink?

Well…Water is extremely important to the mechanics of the human body.  Without enough water, the body cannot work, just as a car cannot run without gasoline and oil.  All cell and organ processes within our body depend on water for their functioning.  Water serves as a lubricant for the body, is the base of our saliva, and forms the fluids the surround the joints.  Water regulates body temperature, alleviates constipation, and regulates our metabolism.  Drinking eight glasses of water daily can even decrease the risk of colon and bladder cancers.  Why?  Because ample amounts of water flush toxins out of our system instead of leaving them around to accumulate and cause cell damage.  So Drink your water!

Some vitamins, like C and B-complex, depend on water for transport throughout the body.  They are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins and therefore leave the body through the urine if not used immediately.

So how much water should we drink?  On average, about eight glasses of water a day!  If you drink a lot of caffienated beverages, then you may need to drink even more water.  Do not rely on thirst as a gauge for dehydration.  Look at your urine:  if it is clear or light yellow, you are fine.  But if the urine is dark yellow, your body is dehydrated and will need its water supply replenished.  Avoid soft drinks.  Instead, drink plain water.

Another point to consider:  heat.  If you are outside gardening or performing some other physical activity and your climate is hot and humid, you MUST drink water even if you do not initially feel thirsty.  Heat and other physical exertion causes your body to sweat and lose water.  You must replace that water.  Cold soft drinks will NOT do the trick.  Please, for the sake of your health, DRINK water!

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