Water, Water, Everywhere…Then Why Aren’t We Drinking Enough?

By Marge Pagliuca

Water is the most vital fluid for life. It is important for homeostasis, or balance, within our bodies. The more water we lose, the more we need to take in. As karate students, it is important to hydrate ourselves well, before coming to class both in the cooler and warmer months. However, it is equally important that we stay hydrated throughout our training.

Ever hear the words, “If you can’t hold off getting water for a one-hour class then you shouldn’t be training in this class”? Not true! It is a myth that training without water will condition you and makes you tougher. When we exercise strenuously our muscles work harder, more heat is generated and more water is lost. If we do not drink water throughout our workout, we run the risk of becoming dehydrated – even in winter. While most cases of dehydration occur during physical activity at higher outdoor temperatures, dehydration also occurs during strenuous exercise at lower outdoor temperatures. The result to our bodies is a feeling of thirst, cramped muscles, dizziness, upset stomach, and severe headache. Being thirsty is annoying when you are in the middle of an intense workout, but becoming dehydrated, even mildly, has far more serious implications.

Thirst is the body’s signal that the water level is getting too low. But only drinking when you feel thirsty is often too late. When you sweat a lot, or the humidity is low, then you must drink often. Children and older adults have an especially unreliable thirst mechanism. So should frequent water breaks upset the dynamics of a class? Definitely not! It is essential for all students to stay hydrated, so frequent water breaks can be an important part of training.

Well-organized karate instructors plan their classes ahead, including spaces for water breaks. Truly conditioned and focused karate students know that they can increase their levels of intensity and give their maximum effort once their bodies are in balance. This is an important part of finding the balance between the body, mind and spirit that we all seek.