Q: Is it true that I’m supposed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day?
A: This is actually a more complicated question than you might think, but the answer is no, not necessarily. The daily Adequate Intake (AI) for water is 3.7 liters (132 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (96 ounces) for women older than 19. Generally speaking, we take in 80 percent of our water from fluids and 20 percent from foods, so doing a little math gives us about 105 ounces for men and 77 ounces for women per day. These are rough estimates gathered from national data, and they may be appropriate for some, but how do we go about individualizing these recommendations?
It’s actually pretty simple. Ideally, we should base our fluid needs on body weight, since a heavier person clearly needs more water than someone who weighs less. Therefore, a good goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. This approximates the daily fluid losses from your body. For example, a 160-pound person should drink roughly 80 ounces of fluid per day. A simple way to check if you’re adequately hydrated is to make sure your urine color is pale yellow to clear on a consistent basis.
Q: I have trouble remembering to stretch after my workouts. Is it really that important, and if so, what am I missing by not doing it regularly?
A: Yes, stretching is a very important part of an overall fitness routine. In fact, it’s just as important as strength training and cardiovascular conditioning, though many individuals don’t adhere to a regular program like they do with these other forms of exercise. Stretching offers numerous benefits, including injury prevention, an increased efficiency of movement and improved blood flow and nutrient delivery to the joints. It also improves muscle coordination, overall balance and postural alignment. It can even help to alleviate muscle soreness and stress after a workout. These are pretty impressive results for just a few minutes of relaxation. Unfortunately, people always seem to be crunched for time, and stretching is usually the first thing to go. In order to make it a consistent part of your training regimen, you need plan for it. Reserve the last ten minutes of your session for stretching, and try not to let your schedule get in the way. After all, you wouldn’t normally cut your lifting or cardio sessions short, would you?
Information provided by Chris Palso, owner, Anytime Fitness, West Des Moines, 225-3224, www.anytimefitness.com.