Our bodies are made up of around 70% water, so staying hydrated is important for our health. Water plays various roles within the body, including maintaining blood pressure, and electrolyte balance, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and taking care of cell health.
However, while we all know it’s important to drink enough water, some of us find it a lot harder to do so.
With this in mind, we’ve put together 11 useful tips to help you stay hydrated.
Why is staying hydrated important for health?
As previously mentioned, water plays many important roles in the body, and staying hydrated is essential for our health and wellbeing.
1. Staying hydrated can help to maximise physical performance
Physical performance can suffer if you’re not hydrated enough – particularly if you take part in high intensity exercise, such as HIIT training.
Dehydration can cause symptoms likeproblems regulating body temperaturel, lack of motivation, and increased fatigue. All of these factors together can make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
On the other hand, research has shown that being properly hydrated can prevent these symptoms and may even reduce the level of oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise. Considering muscle is about 80% water, this isn’t that surprising.
2. Staying hydrated can boost energy levels and brain function
Our brain is largely affected by how hydrated we are. In fact, studies show that even mild dehydration (around 1-3% of body weight), can impair various aspects of brain function.
For example, in this study, researchers found that 1.4% fluid loss after exercise impaired both mood and concentration, and also increased the frequency of headaches.
Many other studies have also found that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.
3. Staying hydrated may help to treat and prevent headaches
For some people, dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines, and research has shown that headaches are one of the most common symptoms of dehydration.
By the same token, drinking more water has also been shown to help relieve headaches in those who experience them frequently. For example, in this study of 102 men, 47% reported headache improvement after drinking an extra 1.5 litres of water per day.
4. Staying hydrated is important for healthy digestion
Drinking enough water is important for maintaining healthy digestion. In particular, constipation can be a common problem caused by dehydration and increasing fluid intake is usually recommended as part of treatment.
There’s plenty of evidence to back this up. For example, research shows that low water consumption is a risk factor for constipation in people of all ages. Studies have also found that mineral water that’s rich in magnesium and sodium is particularly beneficial for constipation relief.
5. Staying hydrated can help to prevent hangovers
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you lose more water than you consume, which can lead to dehydration. While dehydration isn’t the main cause of a hangover, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, and a dry mouth.
An effective way to reduce hangovers (aside from sticking to the limits recommended by the NHS) is to drink a glass of water in between drinks, and have at least one large glass of water before going to sleep.
6. Staying hydrated can aid healthy weight loss
Making sure that you drink enough water can help you lose weight by making you feel fuller (so you eat less) and boosting your metabolism.
In this study of 50 overweight women, those who drank an additional 500ml of water before each meal for eight weeks experienced significant weight loss and a reduction in body fat.
According to experts, drinking water half an hour before meals are most effective. For example, in this study, dieters who drank 0.5 litres of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period compared to dieters who didn’t drink water before meals.
How much water should you drink a day?
Before you set a goal to drink more water, it’s important to understand how much fluid your body needs.
According to the NHS, adults should aim to drink between six and eight cups of fluid a day. This works out to about 1.9 litres per day. Water, low-fat milk, and sugar-free drinks – including tea and coffee – all count.
However, it should be noted that this amount is suitable for a temperate climate. Therefore, when the weather heats up in summer, or for those living in hotter climates, the recommended water intake will be higher.
11 tips for staying hydrated
From setting daily goals to making new routine drinking habits, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you’re drinking enough water.
1. Set a daily water intake goal
Having a daily water intake goal can help you to stay on track with drinking more. Research shows that the act of setting a goal itself can be motivating and increase your chances of making positive changes that last.
Remember, it’s often best to start small, make your daily water intake goal realistic, and build up your intake slowly. This can help to avoid failure and disappointment and allow your body to get used to the change.
For example, if you currently drink around five glasses per day, why not aim to add an extra half glass to that amount every week?
You might also like to record your progress. Looking back on your achievements and how far you’ve come can provide an extra bit of motivation to keep going, and make your increased water intake a habit.
2. Have a reusable water bottle to hand
Having a water bottle to hand can make it easier to drink more water throughout the day – for example, when you’re at work, running errands, travelling, or simply at home.
Constantly having a water bottle within arm’s reach also serves as a visual reminder to drink more. To make this most effective, try placing your water bottle where it’s most visible to you – for example, on your table or desk rather than in your bag.
Reusable water bottles are significantly better for the environment than single-use plastic water bottles too. Amazon has a range of reusable water bottles, which you can browse here.
3. Set alarms and reminders
If your biggest pitfall when it comes to staying hydrated is simply forgetting to have a drink, then you might find it useful to set reminders on your phone.
For example, why not consider setting a reminder to take a few sips of water every 30 minutes, or to finish and refill your glass every hour?
Little sips here and there can go a long way and help you to stay on track with your water consumption.
4. Swap out other drinks for water
Another way to drink more water is to replace other drinks that you have often with water – for example, fizzy drinks.
Not only can this help you stay hydrated, it can also boost your health as fizzy drinks are often filled with added sugars and hidden calories.
The NHS recommends adults have no more than 30g of sugar per day, because research has linked diets high in added sugars with conditions like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. However, just one can (330ml) of full-fat coke contains 35g of sugar, so it can help to keep an eye on labels and to find lower sugar drink alternatives wherever possible.
5. Drink a glass of water before every meal
A good way to structure your water intake is to make a rule to drink one glass of water before every meal.
If you follow a normal eating plan of three meals per day, this easily adds three cups (around 700ml) to your daily water consumption.
What’s more, if you’re trying to lose weight, research has shown that drinking a glass of water up to 30 minutes before eating can naturally encourage portion control. For example, in this study of mature adults, those who drank 500ml of water before each meal achieved 44% greater weight loss results over a 12-week period.
6. Add flavour to your water
If you don’t like the taste of water or find it boring to drink, then the answer might be to add a bit of flavour. And the good news is that you won’t be short of choices.
There are many ways to flavour your water naturally and make it more exciting – for example, by adding citrus fruits, sliced cucumber, or mint – letting the flavour spread for a few hours. You can even buy reusable fruit infuser water bottles.
For more ideas, check out these 32 natural ways to flavour water from Smarter Fitter.
Alternatively, if you fancy a bit of fizz, why not opt for sparkling water instead?
7. Use an app to track how much you drink
Using an app to help you stay on track with your water intake is a simple way to add a bit more fun and structure to the task, and increase your chances of success.
Apps can be used to set daily reminders and alarms, and to track progress. Some also feature fun charts and logbooks too.
For ideas on which app to download, check out this list of the best hydration apps from the Educational App Store.
8. Drink a glass of water every hour at work
If you work a standard eight-hour working day, then drinking one glass of water every hour while at work adds up to the higher end of the NHS’s daily recommended water intake.
This method is a nice way to stay consistent with your water intake throughout the day.
9. Take little sips throughout the day
If the idea of a full glass of water all at once sounds too much, then you might prefer to opt for a little and often method instead.
Instead of drinking a glass of water in one every hour, sip it instead, with the same goal of finishing it before each hour is up.
Research has also shown that sipping water consistently throughout the way helps to prevent your mouth from getting dry, and may even help to keep your breath fresher.
10. Add more foods that are high in water to your diet
If you don’t enjoy drinking water, a simple way to up your intake is to eat it instead, by adding more water-dense foods to your diet.
Fruits and vegetables that are particularly high in water include lettuce (96% water), celery (95% water), cabbage (92% water), and watermelon (91% water).
Plus, alongside their high fluid content, these fruits and vegetables are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost overall health.
11. Drink some water before bed and when you wake up
Another easy way to boost your water intake is to make a routine of drinking water before you go to bed and when you wake up.
You might find it better to drink only half a glass before bed and reserve a full glass for the morning, to prevent needing the toilet throughout the night.
Research has shown that drinking a glass of cold water in the morning may help to wake you up and boost alertness. And, drinking water before bed can help prevent you from waking up with a dry mouth and bad breath.
Staying well hydrated is essential for our health, so it’s important to make sure we’re drinking enough throughout the day.
The good news is that whether you dislike the taste of water or struggle to drink enough of it, there are plenty of simple methods you can use to up your water intake and make it a habit.
For more health tips and advice, head over to the general health section of our website.