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The Fitness Files
Tips and Tricks to Keep You Fit

Water, Nature's Most Abundant Substance

Water is our essence, the body's most vital nutrient. It is essential for life because the body cannot store it or conserve it. The only other substance our bodies crave more is oxygen. Seventy percent of our muscles, and seventy-five percent of our brains are made up of earth's most precious compound, water.

Maintaining a constant state of hydration is a major concern for anyone who exercises, as well as for firefighters. In both instances, allowing dehydration to occur will cause early fatigue, as well as loss of physical and mental coordination.

Initial symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst (even mild thirst)
  • Lack of energy
  • General weakness
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure

It is unwise to rely on thirst as an indicator of how much fluid has been lost. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and do not stop replenishing your fluids once your thirst is satisfied.

Continuous fluid replenishment is essential for avoiding minor to moderate dehydration, and water is the best choice. Serious dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, and a life-threatening condition known as heat stroke, whereby the body becomes unable to cool itself through the normal process of perspiration, and the skin becomes red, warm (greater than 105 degrees F), and dry. If you suspect heat stroke, get the victim out of the sun, and to the emergency room as soon as possible. Remember, never attempt to give anything by mouth, including fluid, to someone who has lost consciousness.

Fluid Replacement Guidelines:

  • Drink 8, eight ounce glasses of water daily.
  • Consume one to two cups of water (8 to 16 ounces) at least one hour before the start of exercise.
  • If possible, consume eight ounces of water 20 minutes before the start of exercise.
  • Consume four to eight ounces of water every 10 to 15 minutes during your workout.


Advice found on this website is meant for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for dealing with a given problem. Always use common sense when exercising, and see your doctor for any, and all serious medical conditions.