One of the first questions I ask every client, be it the first time I see them or the hundreth, is this, “How much water are you drinking?”

The reason for this is that getting enough water in our body each day has huge health benefits, some of which you would never think of. Did you know that you could survive a month without food, but only a week without water?

Now, it is true that we get water though the foods we eat, but we also expel water 24 hours a day through perspiration, breathing, sneezing, urination, coughing, crying, digestion and we use water generally through the use of every cell function in our body.

When you increase your water intake, think of it like watering a plant: if the plant is dry and you try to poor a litre of water onto it, all of the water is going to run right through the roots and out the bottom of the pot. But if you add the water slowly, through time, and allow the soil to soak up the water, it will be kept in the roots and used for growth.

Don’t try to drown yourself in water at night because you’ve forgotten all day; keep a water bottle close to you and take sips throughout the day. Before you know it, the litre or more is gone.

What good is all that water? Water does all of this …

1. It keeps your brain healthy:

Our brain tissue is made up of about 85 per cent water; yes, even your siblings. Drinking water regularly will keep the brain functioning properly. Not drinking enough water puts you in a dehydrated state and can cause headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

2. It helps regulate body temperature:

Is your girlfriend cold all the time? Does she drink enough water? Are you overheating during every training session? Water helps regulate body temperature, especially during exercise. When you exercise, you lose water through your breath and by sweating. As the sweat evaporates, your body cools.

Replenishing water loss during exercise is crucial for physical performance and good health. Too much water loss will increase your risk of heat exhaustion. In addition to your normal six to eight glasses of water each day, drink a glass before you exercise. Then, for each 20 minutes of exercise, drink another cup or more.

Be sure to drink a cup or two after you finish. Again, the water you drink before, after and during exercise is NOT included in your normal six to eight glasses per day; this is extra. And don’t be fooled when you’re swimming, you are still sweating, and replenishing your water is still a must.

3. It flushes out toxins:

We live in a toxic environment. Second-hand smoke, processed foods, fumes from vehicles and lactic acid build up from your workout. These chemicals are circulating around your body and they need to be flushed out.

It is the function of our kidneys is to remove this excess waste from our bodies. They help flush toxins such as uric acid, urea and lactic acid to the kidneys and out of our blood stream. These are the toxins that make us feel sluggish and unwell.

The toxins can also put a harmful burden on other systems in the body. Drinking water regularly lessens the burden on your kidneys by keeping our system healthier and happier.

4. It decreases the risk of heart attack:

Researchers in California studied the water intake of over 20,000 healthy men and women and found that an increase in daily water consumption, to over five glasses per day, decreased the risk of heart attack.

5. It increases your metabolism:

Did you hear that! Increasing water consumption can help you lose weight. By drinking plenty of water throughout the day, we keep our digestive system in check and moving efficiently. Digestion is one of the ways our bodies burn calories.

Efficient digestive system = more calories burned = higher resting metabolic rate.

As well, when your digestive system is efficient, we better use the calories we are consuming for the jobs they are intended.

6. It promotes healthy skin:

As I said earlier, water is used for every cellular function. Skin is the largest organ of your body and is constantly begin replaced. Water controls and regulates the skin’s natural balance.

Water primarily stimulates the circulation of blood, fluids and the necessary elements inside our body. Healthier skin and cells also decrease your chance of infection and disease.

More water = less colds/flu.

7. It helps you lose weight:

A lot of times we confuse thirst for hunger. One of the first things you should do before a meal is to drink 500 millilitres of water, especially when you are having sweet or salty cravings as this can be a sign of dehydration.

As well, over time we have lost the ability to tell the difference between being thirsty and being hungry; our body signals us with the same feeling. Drink water first; eat afterwards if you are still hungry.

8. It decreases joint problems:

Water is used to help lubricate the joints. If you find you are waking up stiff/sore in your joints and there is no obvious injury, try increasing your water intake and watch the amount of caffeine and processed foods you are eating.

You may find the soreness start to ease after a week of consistent water intake. Now, it is true, initially you will have to run to the bathroom more often, but this is normal and, like that plant you’re watering, the frequency should subside as your body starts using the extra water at the cellular level.

It only takes a few days and the bathroom breaks should subside. Remember to use that extra water and start sweating it out with a good workout.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE-certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available at www.pkfitness.yk.ca/Clients. Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.