The Importance Of Hydration

We are made up of around 60% water and loose and gain it in every day activities, weather we lead sedentary or active lifestyles, though the amount we loose will vary person to person.  Today I’m looking at the importance of hydration and why we should try to aim for a 2 liter/8 glass consumption of water on a day-to-day basis.

Water acts to keep our joints lubricated, our skin supple, our brains running well, it can keep us alert, aid digestion, regulate our temperature, get rid of toxins and a whole host of other things.  It keeps us and our cells healthy and keeps everything ticking along nicely.

Without water we can get all sorts of health problems – tiredness, joint aches and pains, lack in concentration, oxygen can not be delivered around our body via our blood system as quickly and easily, muscle fatigue, digestive problems, build up of toxins in our system and dehydration.

It is recommended that we drink around 2 liters of water each day, which is around 8 glasses.  We can loose around this much a day via the production of sweat and urine alone so need to keep this level topped up.  If we exercise then we may need to drink more.

I try to drink 2 liters a day by having half a pint to a pint in the morning upon waking, 2 – 3 pints of water when at work, a pint upon returning from work and half a pint to a pint before bed.  There are water bottles you can get that hold 2 liters of water with little markers on them to show how much water you have consumed and help with knowing how much you still need to drink, these can be really helpful to have.  I always carry around a bottle of water in my car and bag which I can drink from when needed too.

If the weather (or heating in your room/office/home) is warm then you may need to drink more than the recommended water.

How do you monitor your water intake?

Rest Days and Their Importance

Rest days are really important for your body, they help your body recover, heal and recuperate as well as letting the salts and minerals that your body has used return to normal levels.

When you exercise you cause micro tears in your muscles which need time to repair themselves, not resting can cause your muscles to not repair properly and can cause health implications down the line.

I try to have at least one rest day a week when I am hitting a step target of 9000 + steps a day as I have found that the following week, if I don’t have a rest day hitting my target can be a lot harder and maintaining my targets through the week is nearly impossible. My motivation wains and dips, as do my energy levels which leaves me feeling a bit like a low battery that still has a bit of power but not nearly enough to keep everything running at optimum speeds.

One of the best ways I have found to rest and recuperate is to have a hot bath after exercise, keep hydrated with either water or a sports drink that has vital salts and electrolytes in it and take it easy for a few days. Listen to your body, of you have any aches and pains then rest for a bit longer before starting on your path again.

How Much Is Too Much?

This is something I get asked over and over, “if the recommended step allowance daily is 10000 steps, then how much is too much?” or “how many steps is too many?”, and while we know that inactivity and little movement is a bad thing for our bodies there is not much written about how much is too much.  The daily recommended steps is set at 10000 steps per day, which can be achieved if you are aware of how much you move through the day and while there is set minimum it has been said that a sedentary person (like me, who’s job is to be sat at a desk in an office all day) will make between 1000 and 3000 steps in a day, some people, like my partner (who is a roofer) will easily hit 50000 steps or more a day.  I think the question should be rephrased as “How many steps is too much for me?” or maybe even looking at the question from the other side of the coin – “How many steps is too little?”.  Both of these questions have similar answers.

How many steps is too much? I think the answer lies within you and can be answered fairly easily by listening to your body and what it is telling you.  I know that I probably will not hit 50000 steps in a day without a huge struggle and effort, I know that my knees and legs will ache before I have even got half way to that amount.  I also know that I will be getting tired and thirsty, even when having a break. I know that it will take me more and more effort and determination to get up and carry on.  And I know that my recovery time, the days after hitting that many steps, will be long, and I will ache for a considerable time afterwards.  And having a prolonged recovery time will leave me inactive during that time frame, so would it really be worth it?

Similar can be said in answer to “How many steps is too little?”  Again, listening to your body will give you the answer you are seeking.  If you find that you have a lot of energy left at the end of the day and you feel like you have been sat down for too long then maybe you need to increase your activity levels and your steps.  There are lots of causes for irritability, anxiousness and not being able to sleep but sometimes, not having taken enough steps can be the cause.  If you think that you have taken too few steps in your day then try to add in activities that mean you take more steps, it doesn’t even have to be massive changes, things like parking your car further away from work or the shops, walking to different toilets on your break or going for a walk at lunch can increase your steps.

The big thing to remember with minimum and maximum steps is that we are all different, different in terms of activity levels during a normal day, fitness levels, even how we spend our time and all of this can have an impact on our steps.  It is now that I would recommend looking at your inactive day statistics, for me its usually a Sunday, my average steps falls around 2300, but on my active days then I can hit around 14000 steps.  Once you have found your minimum and maximum steps then you can work out an average that you can aim for day to day (to do this – minimum steps + maximum steps / 2), for me this would be 2300 + 14000 = 16300 / 2 = 8150, and as long as I hit around that figure regularly then I wouldn’t worry about minimum or maximum steps or concentrate too hard on what another person hits step wise.  We are all different so we need to embrace that!

Recording Your Stats

I know that most activity trackers record your stats for a while on the app that it uses to link with your PC or mobile however I started to track my stats on a day to day basis externally of the app too.  I use excel to record my steps, miles/km traveled, minutes exercise undertaken (like when I have been on a walk) and record any extra factors that should be noted with regards to my step count such as not feeling well, visiting my parents, weather or if I have done housework or any other activity that may be mainly static so I can convert that into steps later.  I also color code the days steps so I can see at a glance where my good days and bad days are to see if there is any pattern in hitting or missing my targets.  I run a formula to add up a week’s worth of stats and a monthly stats total too so I can see at a glance where I need to improve.  Here is a version of my spreadsheet below….

I find it really useful to track my stats in order to see where the good and bad days are and what factors have stopped me from reaching my targets.  I know that my app collects a lot of the data but for me I like to be able to look at and add other bits that mean something to me.  There is no way for me to add in on my app that I did 45 mins of housework that equates to 3240 steps or that on a certain day I was ill and stayed home, or went out with friends for the evening and tracking this information externally of my app gives me a more rounded picture.  I like that the app offers me a snapshot of my day or week but sometimes its better to have the full picture.

Do you record your stats aside from in your tracker app?  What do you track and record?  What would you like to see added to the activity tracker app?