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An estimated 60 percent of your body is composed of water, reports the Mayo Clinic. Because you are constantly excreting water via your urine, sweat, bowel movements and breathing, drinking enough fluids is vital to your overall health. Adult fluid needs can differ based on your age, activity level and overall body chemistry. By following a few basic guidelines, however, you can ensure you are drinking enough fluids for your health. Because some conditions, such as kidney disease, may require fluid restrictions, always speak to your physician about fluid recommendations.
Although you might be familiar with the drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day rule, you may need slightly more throughout the day, advises the Mayo Clinic. Because your fluid needs increase with body size, men should drink about 13 cups of water per day while women should drink nine cups. Remember, however, that 20 percent of your daily fluid intake comes from foods, according to Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Frozen and canned foods have high water content, as do watermelons, soups, tomatoes, celery and lettuce and contribute to your overall daily fluid intake.
Inadequate fluid intake can be a problem for older adults because thirst signals might not work as effectively as they age, according to Upstate Medical University. If you are an older adult, drinking plenty of water -- even when you do not feel thirsty -- is important. Following the fluid intake recommendations for adults is important to maintaining fluid balance, such as drinking at least five to six cups of fluid per day. If you are urinating less than four times per day or your urine is dark-colored, this can indicate you are not drinking enough. But if you have kidney or heart disease, your physician might recommend a specific fluid intake because these conditions are associated with difficulty eliminating fluids.
Active adults require added fluids to replace water lost via sweat. You must drink fluids before, during and after exercise to ensure you stay properly hydrated. Clemson University Cooperative Extension recommends drinking two cups of water two hours before exercising and one to two cups about 15 minutes before exercising. While you are exercising, try to drink a cup of fluid every 15 minutes. Water is the preferable choice unless you are exercising in extreme heat or for longer than an hour. In these instances, you should drink an electrolyte replacement beverage, such as a sports drink, to replace sodium and potassium lost through sweating.
Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also have additional fluid needs. Pregnant women should drink about 10 cups of fluid per day while breastfeeding. New mothers should drink 13 cups of fluid to support breast milk production. Keeping a water bottle with you at all times can help to provide easy access to water.