You’re probably used to telling your clients to stay hydrated when they’re training, as the benefits of drinking water are widely known. But are you practising what you preach and drinking regularly yourself?
Looking after yourself is just as important as training your clients, not only to be a role model for them, but also to decrease your chances of getting ill and losing income.
It’s important that you plan your day to allow break times for you to recover, drink and eat. It can be easy to forget this if you are self employed and focused on fitting as many clients in as possible, but remember that you will provide a better service if you look after yourself first.
You may forget to drink or think you don’t need as much as your clients, but if you’ve got back-to-back appointments and are demonstrating exercises, you definitely need to drink water regularly to stay hydrated.
The human body consists of up to 75% water, which is essential for cell function, maintaining a stable core temperature and organ function. Mild levels of dehydration can impact mood and cognitive functioning, including concentration, alertness and short term memory, as well as physiological functioning. You want to be able to communicate well and empathise with your clients, so it’s important to be in good condition while you are working with them.
Water is lost from the body through sweating, urine and breathing. Even excluding vigorous physical exercise, it is estimated that the body loses four percent of its body weight in water each day. In a 70 kilogram person, this equates to 2.5 – 3 litres per day. So you can see that even if you aren’t training hard, you need to pay attention and keep hydrated. Dehydration resulting in a loss of even two percent of body weight results in reduced physiological functioning.
It is important to remember that once you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. At this point, drinking water may lead you to feel that you are sufficiently hydrated, when in fact you may still need to drink more.
Eating a balanced diet also helps in this matter, as maintaining stable electrolyte levels is an essential part of maintaining hydration. Sodium is lost through sweating, so this is particularly important during periods of exercise. Foods such as fruit and soup can contribute to your water intake, but are usually not enough on their own in active individuals. If you dislike plain water, it is important to be careful what other fluids you consume. Sugary or acidic drinks (fruit juice included) can increase your calorie intake for the day and impact your dental health.
Drinking sufficient water has also been linked with weight loss. Studies suggest that up to 75% of Australians are dehydrated at any point in time, and our bodies sometimes confuse thirst with hunger, causing us to eat more. Drinking water can also suppress appetite, and raises your metabolic rate for around 40 minutes after consumption. Water is also essential for muscle repair, so if you completed your own training session before working with clients, it is essential that your replenish your water (as well as your protein and other essential nutrients) post workout.
Matt O’Neill, nutritionist and director of MetabolicJumpstart.com, says your water bottle should be your essential training companion to remind you to keep drinking, especially on busy days with multiple clients. Try taking a sip every time you remind your client to drink.
If you are training outdoors, or in a warm, windy or dry environment, this can lead to increased dehydration levels, so pay particular attention in these circumstances.
Try weighing yourself before and after your PT sessions. This is a good way to check how much weight, i.e. water, you’ve lost so you know how much to replace.
Another good way is to check the colour of urine. It should be almost clear, so if you’re passing dark urine, you’re dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration are feeling tired, migraines, dry skin and muscle cramps.
Coffee and alcohol both act as diuretics, increasing the chance of dehydration, so be careful with your intake of these.
If you are proactive and remain hydrated, you will improve your own wellbeing and be better able to help your clients.
In a world where many easily accessible and tempting fluids can reduce your hydration, it’s important to stay on the front foot and make the right choices for your body.
So, keep your water bottle filled up for your sessions and you’ll be more alert for your clients, you’ll have better skin, avoid headaches and dizziness, and feel much healthier.