It’s that time of year again. Summer is in the air, with the promise of barbeques, hitting the great outdoors, and getting time on the stand-up paddle board.
What do you look forward to about summer? Many of our activities center around water. It’s great for some family fun, and some relaxing vistas. In fact, water can be downright restorative.
Water plays a pervasive role in our lives. It is essential to life and, as is being found in scientific studies, a rejuvenator of the human spirit. With that in mind and in honor of the upcoming summer season, let’s take a look at the restorative power of water.
Drinking water – are you getting enough?
Human adults are made up of 55 – 60% water, so unsurprisingly, we need to ensure that we consume enough water to replenish ourselves. I don’t know about you, but when I’m deep in the middle of a busy work day, remembering to hydrate can be an issue!
Many people express similar concern over drinking enough water, but surprisingly, a CDC study found that Americans are, overall, drinking enough. The caveat here is that not all water consumption is coming from drinking water directly. We get a certain amount from foods that we consume, while many people are getting their daily intake through liquids such as juice and soda, with potentially negative health outcomes due to the calorie intake. Drinking actual pure water is still preferable!
If you’re in the group that struggles to ensure you’re properly hydrated, it’s worth considering how you can instill the habit of drinking water. The implications of being dehydrated can be quite wide-reaching for the body.
Our brains require enough water to keep running optimally. When we are dehydrated, short-term memory function and recall of long-term memory can be impaired. Mental arithmetic and the ability to think clearly are impacted. If you’re experiencing a “brain fog,” it’s worth considering – have I had enough water?
According to the CDC, other benefits of drinking water include:
- Keeping your temperature normal
- Lubricating and cushioning your joints
- Protecting the spinal cord and sensitive tissues
- Helping to aid digestion and the body’s system of ridding waste
As for how much to drink each day, this varies for each person and the conditions they are living in. For example, in the summer heat you’re going to need more, as you also do if you’re very active or have been sick with vomiting or diarrhea. The standard advice has been to drink eight glasses of water per day, an amount that’s reasonable and easy to remember. You may need more than this, or some people can get away with less.
If you’re the hard-training type who tends to drink a lot of water, be aware of the need to supplement that water with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. There is such a thing as over-hydrating, which can lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia, where you have low blood-sodium. This is something that marathoners or endurance athletes are sometimes prone to.
This summer, how will you drink healthy amounts of water and keep your body restored?
The value of time near water
People commonly spend a lot of time chasing bodies of water. We choose beaches and lakes for vacations, and competition for real estate with water views sees those properties with more than double the median value of others.
We intuitively sense that being near water makes us feel good, but is there something in that scientifically?
Historically, physicians have prescribed “sea air” or even dunking in sea water to cure a range of ailments. Some of their cure claims might seem outrageous today (stupidity was one!), but then there are a list of Victorian maladies which, on closer inspection might be attributed to mental health. Ailments such as nervous ticks and “melancholia” were among those for which a stay at the seaside was prescribed.
Studies have backed up the notion that time at the beach is good for mental and physical health. People who live closer to the sea tend to be more relaxed and encouraged to partake in physical activity. They report better physical and mental health than those who live more inland. Could this be why Hawaii consistently leads as the happiest US state in polls?
Wallace J. Nicholls, PhD, is the author of Blue Mind, a book about the physical and psychological benefits of water. He has been studying the subject for over 25 years and describes the sense of peace we tend to get around water as our “blue mind.” This is a chance for us to escape hyper-connectivity and the over-stimulation of modern life in favor of a slower pace, perhaps even some solitude.Water can provide a sense of peace; of escaping the over-stimulation of modern life Click To Tweet
Physically, when we enter water we give our muscles a break that tend to be in constant use, and discover others which we use far less frequently. The “weightless” feeling without the restrictions of gravity can be a somatic break for the brain too.
There is also evidence to suggest that the old prescription for “sea air” might not just be hooey. The salt air itself has been shown to be good for the lungs, with Cystic Fibrosis patients reporting fewer pulmonary flare-ups when inhaling hypertonic saline (which mimics what we inhale at the beach).
As a busy founder, you could also look at it in terms of the benefits you get when forced to unplug. Many sea or lakeside areas that you might visit simply don’t have the connectivity available for you to be checking emails, while participation in water activities is definitely not a safe prospect for the functioning of your phone! Time out by the water can be a great opportunity simply to “be.” To let the worries of running a business wait for another day.
Time out in nature is a valuable restorer. There is evidence to suggest that it lowers stress levels and can also reduce hypertension, respiratory tract, and cardiovascular illnesses. Our time spent in nature can reduce anxiety and restore mental capacity.
Need any more excuses to get out and rejuvenate by the water this summer? It may just be one of the best things you do for your overall well being.
On that note, how does a scenic canoeing trip sound this summer? I’m excited to be co-hosting a trip with Adventures with Geeks, heading to the boundary waters in Minnesota. It’s five days exploring an area which can only be reached by water, along with a bunch of self-identifying “geeks.” Check out this link for more information and to reserve your spot!
Water is an ongoing need
Most of us who live within the entrepreneurial realm are lucky enough that we have ready access to clean drinking water and can get to scenic bodies of water to restore ourselves. For many of the world’s populations though, access to clean water is an ongoing crisis.
Globally, one in ten people lack access to clean drinking water. They face issues such as diseases and sickness brought on by poor water quality or lack of hygiene. Many live in isolated communities where getting access to water is an all-consuming activity. People may need to spend hours of every day walking to collect water for their families, keeping children out of school and parents unable to earn the money to provide for their needs.
The bottom line is that access to clean drinking water gives us the advantages of health, education and opportunity to earn income. This is something to be grateful for, but also to be mindful of as a need. If you’re interested in supporting a good charity which brings access to drinking water, consider Charity Water, who work with local experts and community members to find sustainable solutions.
It seems that we see more sad stories every day about the state of our oceans and issues such as plastic waste clogging our seas and hurting wildlife. Clean water and healthy coastlines are essential if we are to protect that restorative power of water for future generations.
On the positive side, there is growing awareness of the issue of unhealthy oceans, and people are stepping up to do something about it. One of my favorite groups is the Surfrider Foundation, an organization with chapters globally that are dedicated to protection and enjoyment of the oceans. Check them out if you’re interested in participating or contributing.
Water is powerful and restorative in many ways for all life on the planet. Consider how you might harness that power yourself, while acting to conserve this precious resource.
Take a canoeing adventure this summer, co-hosted by Adventure Geeks and myself. Check out the link here for more details.