When was the last time you took a sip of water? If you have trouble remembering, chances are you may not be hitting the daily recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which are about 13 cups for men and 9 for women. (These requirements may vary depending on your activity level, the weather, any health conditions, and other factors, per the Mayo Clinic.)
Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest ways to keep your body and mind working at their best. Per Harvard Health Publishing, water helps carry nutrients and oxygen through cells, aid digestion and prevent constipation, stabilize the heartbeat and blood pressure, regulate body temperature, and maintain your body’s electrolyte balance.
And because water is so essential to these biological functions, your body is sure to notice if you’re not drinking enough of it. MedLine Plus notes that the symptoms of dehydration may include a dry or sticky-feeling mouth, dark yellow urine (or a less-frequent urge to urinate), dry skin, headaches, and muscle cramps. In more severe cases, dehydration can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, a rapid heartbeat and breathing rate, and even shock.
A meta-analysis published in November 2018 in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise also suggested that dehydration may affect cognitive function, making it more difficult to focus and coordinate tasks — and as employees at Everyday Health, staying focused on the latest health and wellness topics is a top priority.
So to help you pick up (and maintain) a healthy hydration habit, we’ve collected these top tips from our team. Read on to learn how we’ve learned to hit our hydration goals!
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1. Keep Water Close to Hand Throughout the Day
It may seem like an obvious first step, but you’re more likely to drink enough water when it’s easily accessible to you. “I keep a glass of water nearby all day long,” says contributing editor Sarah DiGiulio. “If it’s in front of me, or sitting right next to my coffee cup, I’ll remember to keep sipping.”
Senior editor Melinda Carstensen does the same, keeping several different drinks close to hand throughout the day. “For example, right now I have a mug of peppermint tea, a Swell water bottle filled with ice water, and a stainless steel cup of grapefruit-essenced sparkling water on my desk,” she notes. “My husband likes to (lovingly) make fun of me for this, but having so many hydration vessels handy reminds me to sip, and with such a variety I never get bored of any one beverage!”
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2. Infuse Water With Fruit to Add Flavor and Variety
If plain water is not to your taste, don’t worry — incorporating fresh fruit or opting to buy a naturally flavored water can help add some excitement to your bottle, notes senior associate editor Christina Vogt. If you want to experiment with different flavors, it couldn’t be easier to do at home. Simply look for an infuser-style water bottle, which will generally have an insert to hold your choice of fruits and other ingredients. Lemon, cucumber, mint, and strawberries are all popular options. And if you don’t love the idea of making your own flavored water, Christina enjoys Hint water, which “is just fruit-infused water — plus it comes in a bunch of flavors, like watermelon and blackberry.”
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3. Invest in a Gadget That Makes Water Exciting
These days, there are more helpful gadgets available than ever to help you stick to a hydration habit. Senior editor Pam Kaufman swears by her SodaStream, a countertop machine that lets you carbonate your own drinks. “I don’t really like the taste of water but I love fizzy water,” she says. “So for me buying a SodaStream was a big help in meeting my hydration goals. I’ve also discovered that pumping water full of bubbles is kind of satisfying, so that has become part of my hydration routine. Sometimes I get fancy and add a squeeze of lime, but mostly I’ll just drink a glass or two straight.” Not a fan of plain seltzer? Many brands now offer Sodastream-compatible essences to help you add flavor to your fizz, such as this option from Bubly.
Bonus: The SodaStream-compatible bottles are reusable, making them an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bottles.
4. Download an App to Help Monitor Your Water Intake
Do you usually keep your smartphone closer to hand than your water bottle? If so, maybe an app can help you stay hydrated. Editor Bri Majsiak loves Plant Nanny, an app which lets you personalize your hydration goals, set reminders to drink water, and look after the in-app plants of your choice. As you drink more water, your plants will grow and motivate you to keep up the habit. Plant Nanny is free via the App Store and Google Play, along with other water-tracking apps such as Water Reminder and Waterlogged.
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5. Pre-Portion Your Daily Water Goals
Social media manager Carolyn Fagan uses carafes to measure her daily water intake. “I have a filter attachment on my sink but it filters water very slowly, so instead of waiting every time I want a glass, I fill up a few big carafes at a time,” she says. “That way, I can bring a carafe to my desk as I’m working and keep filling up. It also helps me monitor my intake; instead of counting the amount of glasses I drink, I can easily see how many carafes I’ve finished!” (She also starts each day with a big mason jar of water.)
6. Choose a Water Bottle That Suits You
These days, your water bottle can do everything from tracking your water intake to syncing with your FitBit. Whether you prefer a flip-top or a straw, slim or wide, glass or plastic or aluminum, the possibilities are endless — and choosing a water bottle you like means you’re more likely to keep it close to hand. “A month or two after we started working from home [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], I realized I wasn’t drinking as much water as I used to when I was in the office,” says production manager Nicki Vegliando. “So I bought a gallon water bottle that has time slots on it. It keeps me motivated to drink a certain amount of water by a certain time every day!” The water bottle Nicki uses is available on Amazon.
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7. Snack on Foods With a High Water Content
“Something that’s helpful for me is eating a lot of foods that contain water naturally — like oranges, watermelon, yogurt, and lettuce or salad,” says Christina. Carolyn opts for foods with a high water content, too — “think cucumbers, peppers, and leafy greens.” Many of these fruits and vegetables are close to 100 percent water by weight, notes the Mayo Clinic, so incorporating them into your diet will provide you with both nutrients and an H2O boost.