|The Importance of Water
For years, we have all been told of the importance of water. The general guideline has been to drink eight, 8-ounce servings of water each day. For a person who is not living an active lifestyle this may be enough, but if you are physically active, you need more water than that. That is especially true if you are hiking in the desert due to the fact the average temperature is usually higher than other areas in the country.
Water is essential for everyone, especially if you are exercising. Water helps almost every part of the human body function properly. Our bodies are almost two-thirds water, and proper hydration is essential to keep your body functioning properly during exercise. Some of the things water does in the body are:
The Brain is 75% water; even moderate dehydration can cause headaches and dizziness. Water regulates body temperature, which is especially important here in the desert where the temperatures can be so brutal. It also aids in the removal of cellular and digestive waste.
Water carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body
Blood is 92% water. Water protects and cushions vital organs. Water converts food into energy ( which is something you will need on a 3 to 4 hour hike )
Muscles are 75% water, and you will use many muscles on a trail as you climb above the desert floor.
Exercising in the heat for long periods should alert you to drink more water than normal. Being thirsty is not an accurate indicator of how much water you need. If you plan to engage in prolonged and strenuous exercise ( and hiking many of the trails in Palm Springs can be strenuous ) you should drink at least 20 ounces of water two hours before your hike to allow time for adequate hydration and excretion of excess water. During vigorous exercise, you should be drinking 5-12 ounces of water for every 15 minutes to match sweat loss, and even more than that in warm weather. The amount of water consumed also depends on the climate, air temperature and geography of where you are.
When hiking you should drink plenty of fluids, remembering that cold fluids empty from the stomach faster. During prolonged exercise in the heat, water losses as little as 2% of your body weight will affect circulation, and heat dissipation. Develop the habit of drinking plenty of water both before and during your hikes.
Water vs. Sports Drinks
For years, the debate has been going on about water and sports drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde. Research has shown that during exercise for a duration of less than one hour water should supply all the bodies needs. However, if your intense exercise lasts longer than one hour it is recommended that consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink can be beneficial. Since most of the hikes in the desert will take you more than one hour, perhaps you should carry a sports drink with you to supplement your water intake. You may also want to have cold sports drinks in an ice chest waiting for you in your car for after your hike. You will be glad you did.