Workplace Wellness: How to Stay Hydrated at Work

Categories: Uncategorized

By Hannah Pratt, KSC Dietetic Intern

It is no secret that our bodies need fluid in order to work properly; water is considered to be an essential nutrient that the body needs in order to stay healthy. The human body is made up of 60% water and water is vital for a number of important bodily functions. Your body uses water in all of its cells, organs, and tissues, which help regulate body temperature, aid in digestion, transport nutrients and electrolytes throughout the body, maintain blood pressure and so much more. Despite its importance, hydration is seldom talked about and receives little emphasis in our everyday lives; especially in places where we spend most of our time including at home and in the workplace. Most of us forget to consume an adequate amount of fluid during the day until we are already feeling or showing signs of dehydration. An estimated 80% of the U.S. adult population is at least mildly dehydrated during a normal day, which is shocking.  Why are so many of us dehydrated?

Common Risk Factors for Dehydration:
• Forgetting to drink adequate amounts of hydrating fluids or foods
• Not knowing how much fluid you need per day which may lead to consuming less fluid than you need
• Excessive sweating where sweat output exceeds water intake: Especially true on humid days or days where you are more physically active
• Increased urination
• Consuming sugar sweetened beverages and coffee which can be mildly dehydrating
• Working in hot environments: Dry or humid heat can increase your fluid needs
• Increased workload: May distract you from consuming hydrating fluids or food
• Stress: Stress can cause you to breathe more heavily which can lead to fluid loss.
• Long journeys to and from work:

– The car can become a dry or humid environment, especially on hot days, which can increase fluid needs
– Some people may not want to stop at a store for water during their commute or not remember to pack a water bottle.

The body loses fluid through sweat, respiration and urination. When we do not regularly replace the fluids that we lose throughout the day we can become dehydrated. Dehydration has been shown to lower physical and mental performance and can impact your ability to perform at work. Men and women who have more physically active jobs can become dehydrated faster than those who do not. It is important to regularly assess your hydration status and fluid consumption throughout the day.

Common Signs of Dehydration:
• Feelings of Fatigue, irritability and dizziness
• Dry mouth, skin or eyes
• Increased sensation of thirst
• Decreased urination
• Amber or dark yellow urine
• Decreased work performance
• Increased heart rate or blood pressure
• Headache
• Constipation

Fluid Recommendations:
The conventional recommendation of “eight cups of water per day” no longer holds up when we think about how individualized a person’s fluid needs really are. Some people may require a greater amount of fluid per day than others. The amount of fluid that a person needs depends on their age, state of health and wellness, body weight, level of physical activity and a number of other outside influences that one can be subject to. If you are interested in finding out your personal or ideal daily fluid needs, you can consult a trained medical professional such as your primary care physician or a registered dietitian in your community who can accurately assess the factors previously listed.

Fluid needs can be met by drinking hydrating fluids or consuming foods that contain fluid (fruits, vegetables, soups, popsicles, smoothies etc.). There are many fun ways to hydrate your body, such as putting fruit and herbs into water to add flavor. For example, a popular flavored water combination is strawberry, lime, mint and kiwi. Do not be afraid to get creative with hydration!

Tips for Staying Hydrated at Work:
• Consume fluids regularly throughout the day (when you wake up, during your commute, while at work, with meals, before you go to bed).
• Keep a water bottle with you at work so that you can access available water sources (cheaper than buying water and better for the environment with less plastic waste). .
• Drink fluids whenever you feel thirsty
• Set fluid consumption goals (ex. I will drink half my water bottle by the time i get to work).
• Consume hydrating fluids that you enjoy!

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