How Much Water Should You Drink in a Day?

Eliza Martinez
Water Bottle

Maybe you don't spend a lot of time thinking about water, but the truth is that it's pretty important for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints, protects tissue and assists in eliminating waste from your body. You've probably heard the old recommendation that you should drink eight glasses of water every day, but there's a better way to determine your water needs.

General Recommendations

Under normal circumstances, your body does need a certain amount of water to function. That amount varies based on gender and is a good starting point for ensuring that you're drinking enough each day. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can base your needs on the following calculations.

  • The average man should get about 13 cups of water daily.
  • A woman should aim for about 9 cups of water each day.

Exercise

You likely know that working out makes you thirsty. The above recommendations are the basics. If you exercise every day, your fluid needs go up.

Think about how much you sweat when you exercise. All that fluid needs to be replaced or you run the risk of becoming dehydrated. Use the following tips from the Mayo Clinic to be sure you fill up.

  • Drink 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water for a short exercise session.
  • Add to that amount for longer and more strenuous workouts, based on thirst and the amount you sweat.
  • Choose a sports drink to replace your electrolytes after a long and extra hard workout.

Climate

A hot summer day probably makes you want to reach for a cold glass of water, while a cold day might not make you as thirsty. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, living in a hot climate means you need more water than if you lived in a cooler place. That also means that some days will require more water to stay hydrated, while others won't.

Try to be sure you're drinking regularly because once thirst kicks in, your cells already need water, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Health

Your water needs may change if you have a fever or are throwing up. The Mayo Clinic recommends increasing your water intake as much as possible to counteract the fluid loss that occurs with these conditions.

Certain chronic or longer lasting health conditions might also require a higher than average water intake. They include the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Bladder infection
  • Urinary tract stones
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

Increasing Your Intake

Water is, of course, the ideal way to boost your fluid intake, but it isn't the only way. Food, milk, juice, coffee and tea are other ways of getting a bit more water in your diet. Check out these foods that are high in water, courtesy of the experts at Health magazine; they're an easy way to add water to your day:

  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit

Detecting Dehydration

One of the best ways that health care professionals assess hydration is how thirsty you feel. So, if you feel like getting a drink of water, do so.

While there is some danger in over-hydrating, it's far more likely that you'll experience dehydration at some point in your life. Understanding what might indicate the issue can help you know when it's time to grab your water bottle. Be on the lookout for these symptoms from U.S. News and World Report:

  • Feelings of thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Trouble focusing
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

If you experience any of these symptoms, get a drink of water and call your doctor. Circumstances, such as a new workout program or hotter than average summer, might mean you need to boost your intake.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

It is rare to drink too much water, but it does happen and it's something to be aware of, particularly if you find yourself downing large amounts of water after exercise or other activities. The condition is often called water intoxication and can result in death. It can occur after ingesting huge quantities of liquid and is something that athletes should be especially mindful of.

According to the Journal of Clinical Pathology, the following symptoms can occur with water intoxication.

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in mental status
  • Psychotic symptoms

Drinking too much water can also lead to a condition called hyponatremia. This occurs when sodium levels are abnormally low in your body. As a result, your cells become swollen, which can cause coma, seizures and even death.

Enjoying Water Your Way

There are many ways you can employ to work more fluid into your day. By trying some of these tried and true methods, you can easily boost how much water you get without having to spend a ton of time and effort thinking about it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the following ideas.

  • Carry a water bottle with you and sip from it often.
  • Skip soda and opt for water or unsweetened tea instead.
  • Flavor your water with lemon or lime so it tastes more appetizing.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables every day.

Mix and match your favorite methods for ensuring that you get the water you need each day. No matter how you do it, staying hydrated is an important step for staying healthy and happy.

How Much Water Should You Drink in a Day?