Water. The one liquid we most take for granted. We often forget how important clean water is to our training and our health. As humans, our bodies are composed primarily of water; somewhere between 55 and 78 percent, depending on hydration levels. And while we can last weeks, or even months1, without food we will only survive days without water. In the Western world, water is readily available from the tap, but in many places bottled water may be your only safe source of water.
When working out we need to replace the fluids lost through sweat and respiration (water is lost during breathing). It is generally a good idea to pre-hydrate with 8-16 ounces of water prior to working out. This will help maintain hydration levels during your workout. From there, drink as thirsty, or as I recommend to my clients, take a sip during each rest period. During prolonged exercise, if hydration needs aren’t met, you may experience fatigue, nausea, headache, cramps, and exhaustion. In this case, it is imperative that you hydrate as soon as possible.
So which type of water is best for rehydration: Tap water or bottled water?
Tap water is the water that is provided by your municipality to your home. In general, this is a good option for hydration.
- Heavily tested and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Local water reports are available
- Is free from contaminants
- No plastic waste or recycling issues
- Easily accessible
- Water quality can be affected by the pipes that take it to your home or work (e.g. lead pipes).
- Pharmaceuticals and personal care pollutants are being found more often2
- Water quality varies by area
- Water fluoridation is a contentious issue; excess fluoride can cause fluorosis of the teeth (i.e. white spots).
- There is a trace amount of chlorine added to the water supply (although this is necessary to kill dangerous pathogens).
Bottled water is available around the world. It is the only safe drinking-water available in many places.
- Convenient; Can be purchased and carried anywhere
- Monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Often includes further filtering beyond what is used for tap water
- Many options for flavours, price ranges, and carbonation
- Possible health benefits for mineral water
- Possible leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles
- Waste created from use of bottles
- Use of oil to produce plastic
- Usually an unknown water source
Which is the better choice? That is all up to you! Both have their benefits and detriments. Drinking either type of water is better than not drinking water, especially when it comes to exercising. No matter your preference, it is best to keep some water close at hand during your training to help maintain adequate hydration while getting your sweat on!