H20: How Much is Really Enough?

“You need to drink eight glasses of water a day to maintain good health.” Have you heard this line before? We sure have. It’s cited often enough to be accepted as gospel, when in fact, it’s not strictly accurate.

Much like how saying you need 8 hours of sleep a night, the eight, 8oz glass of water rule is more of a guideline. And for many people, that line is way off the mark. Some people need more sleep. Others thrive on less. Likewise, some people will need more water than eight, 8oz glasses and depending on your age, some people may require less.

How much do you need?

That depends. It depends on a myriad of factors that range from your age, sex, activity level, and the climate and altitude in which you live. For instance, if you are a pregnant woman working out in a hot climate at a higher altitude, you’d need significantly more water than a 20 year old male working out in a cooler region closer to sea level.  

Here are the major determining factors:

The Weather

Not all climates are the same. The hotter the climate, the more moisture you lose and the more you’ll need to replenish your stores. If you live in a hot climate, drink about a half a litre to a litre more of water every day. The exact amount will depend on how hot it actually is, but be mindful to consume more than the recommended 8 glasses.

The Altitude

The higher the altitude, the more water you need to drink. This is because you exhale and perspire significantly more moisture when you're higher up. Around 5,000 feet above sea level is generally considered high altitude, and you need to increase your water consumption by roughly 1 litre to 1.5 litres.

Your Sex

Men need to drink 3.7 litres of water per day, whereas women need to drink 2.7 litres. Pregnant women need at least 10 cups and breastfeeding women need 13 cups -- and that doesn't include the extra amount you should be drinking if you are exercising or working, or doing so at  higher altitudes.

Your Activity Level

If you are exercising or have a very physical job, you also need to increase your water intake. Drink 1.5 to 2.5 cups more of water per day  — and then more if you are active outside in the heat.

Your Age

As we age, our bodies stop retaining water as efficiently, and as a result, we need to hydrate more, even if we don’t feel as thirsty. Once you’re over 65, it’s a good idea to drink an extra glass or two of water everyday to ensure you are getting enough.

Children, on the other hand, have less body mass and therefore require less water. 4 to 8 year olds need around five cups, 9 to 13 year old boys need eight cups, 9 to 13 year old girls need seven cups, 14 to 18 year old girls need eight cups and the same age group for boys require cups. Again, these are base amounts, not taking into account the other factors.

And remember, you need to take all of the factors into consideration when determining how much water you need everyday  — and every day’s requirement may not be the same. One day you may take your HIIT routine to the park and need some extra H20 to combat the extra activity and hot sun, and another day you may be chilling at home doing gentle stretch yoga and only require the base amount of water. Regardless, have your trusty water bottle filled to the brim, and be sure to drink up as and when required.

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