News flash: Exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your body.
In fact, study after study has shown that staying active can get blood flowing to every corner of your gray matter… beef up your brain thickness… and even ward off dementia.
It’s practically a “fountain of youth” for your cognitive function!
But before you lace up those walking shoes, be sure to visit a drinking fountain.
Because according to a new study, you can’t reap all of the cognitive benefits of exercise if you’re not gulping down enough water.
In the study, which was presented at a recent meeting of the American Physiological Society, researchers divided older folks who participated in a bicycling event on a warm day into two groups: Before the ride, participants either hydrated normally or didn’t drink enough.
Now, since we know that exercise gives your brain a boost, we’d expect that the participants’ thinking skills would be a little sharper after they crossed the finish line. And sure enough, those in the normal hydration group performed BETTER on a timed thinking skills test after the ride than they had before it.
But those in the dehydration group got no such boost. Their scores on the thinking test were pretty much the same post-ride as they were pre-ride.
Without enough water, it was as if the cognitive benefits of exercise had all but “dried up”!
Now, there’s normally a lot of water flowing through your blood. But when you don’t drink enough water AND you sweat water out during exercise, your blood thickens.
And since your heart has to work extra hard to pump thick blood through, the theory is that dehydration means that oxygen-rich blood can’t gush to every nook and cranny of your gray matter as freely.
As a result, your brain simply can’t function as well.
Now, you probably already know that you should be drinking at least eight glasses of water a day — but when you exercise, you need to be drinking even more to replace what you’ve lost.
You can lose up to FOUR GLASSES of water during a vigorous workout!
And since our “thirst perception” tends to dull with age, you can’t rely on feeling thirsty to motivate you to drink.
In fact, you may not FEEL thirsty until you’ve lost 2 to 3 percent of your body’s water… but physical and mental impairment starts when you’ve lost only 1 percent.
So, drink up, my friend!
Plain water is your best bet for hydration – not one of those sweetened or flavored “sports” waters. And stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, which WON’T hydrate you and may actually make you dehydrated faster.
You can also bulk up on foods with high water content, like watermelon, cucumbers, and celery.