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Your Water Needs for Different Situations

Our bodies depend more on water than on food. Depending on circumstances, temperature and physical exertion, an individual can live as long as 4 to 6 weeks without food, but only 3 to 5 days without water. Although water isn’t a major source of vitamins or minerals, it is an important part of your diet and overall health. Roughly 60 to 70 percent of your body weight is water, and replenishing your body on a daily basis is vital to proper body function.

How much hydration an individual needs varies from person to person. Factors that impact your personal requirements include the temperature and humidity of your area, how much exercise and activity you get during the day, your general health, and for women, whether or not you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Although there are several common methods for evaluating how much you should be drinking daily, I’m a personal fan of using your weight as a measure.

Drink the amount of water in ounces that equals your weight in pounds, divided by two. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink 75 ounces per day. Use this as a baseline approach. Then drink additional ounces of H2O per day for the following situations:

  • Exercise: Drink an extra 8 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise.
  • Alcohol: For every alcoholic drink, consume an equal amount of water.
  • Travel: For every hour in flight, drink an additional 8 ounces.
  • Climate: If you live in a dry climate, drink an additional 16 ounces.
  • Breastfeeding: Drink an extra 8 ounces prior to each feeding.
  • Pregnancy: Drink an extra 8 ounces of water.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to drink enough water so that you 1) don’t feel thirsty, and 2) have very little color or smell to your urine.

Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at



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