You sweat. You push your limits. You expand your lungs and tone your muscles into a habitual rhythm. You self-motivate and ride; And you sweat. It’s a beautiful thing, a man (or woman) and their bicycle.
When you’re not hovering over your handlebars, you might be pressing bells or stretching or using a treadmill. You may even be dieting. All these things amount to good intentions, but they aren’t nearly as important as one key to health every cyclist needs: water.
Water does so much more than sedate your thirst during or after a ride. Our bodies are at least 66% water. This means water is virtually a part of every body function. Your muscles are between 70% and 75% water, which maintains their elasticity. Aqua also lubricates bodily tissues and supports joints, keeping your body fit and ready for its next ride.
Additionally, our lungs are, surprisingly, made up of 90% water. As you pedal and breathe, you expel moisture in your every exhale. That’s why it’s vital to replenish hydration so you can continue to grow your breathing capacity and elongate ride lengths.
Dragging feet and making excuses to skip a ride or two? You may be dehydrated. Our brains are over 95% water, and when it’s lacking our mental clarity and alertness are compromised. If you need some added motivation, skip the caffeinated morning routine and drink a couple big glasses to boost your brain and mood. Also, taking a ride near a waterfront has been shown to increase overall well-being and create a positive association with riding. This is a great tip for newbies, so if you have friends or family who are just getting started with the sport, suggest a route along a local lake or creek to keep them inspired.
Your digestion, especially the breakdown of oral bacteria and soluble fiber, rely on proper hydration. Water also detoxes the body, boosts the immune system, softens food in the intestinal tract, and makes minerals and nutrients easier to absorb. Plus, you’ve got to replace the water you sweat out after every ride!
US citizens manage to use around 346,000 million gallons of fresh water daily, and a healthy, hard-working, or physically active person can drink 3 gallons of water (don’t fall back on the “8 cups a day” motto from childhood.) You want to keep those hydration levels up and never feel thirsty, as by the time your body’s begging for it, over 1% of its aqua volume has been lost.
If all these numbers don’t have you swimming in reasons to skip the sports drink and fill that bottle with clean, cool water, nothing will. As the old Slovakian proverb goes, “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.” Only with water can you maintain your optimum health and keep on riding.