Hydration at Work

Good hydration is essential to the proper functioning of our brains and bodies. Drinking water contributes significantly to the everyday functioning of your heart and provides lubrication to your joints and muscles. Even mild dehydration has been shown to have several cognitive side effects, including worsened mood, lower concentration, headaches, increased perception of task difficulty, tension, anxiety and fatigue.

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Workplace Health and Wellbeing - Hydration

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends that men consume 2.5 litres of water every day and women consume 2.0 litres each day. This recommendation also includes advice that 80% of a person’s water intake come from drinking liquids and 20% come from food — meaning men should drink at least 2.0 litres and women 1.6 litres of water a day. To boost your hydration through snacks, aim to eat plenty of water rich fruits and vegetables.

It can be all too easy to get lost in work and before you know it the morning has gone without you having had a single glass of water. Research shows that a water loss of only 1-2% in the body, which is considered mild dehydration, impairs cognitive performance. This mild level of dehydration has been shown to result in a 12% reduction in productivity. The bottom line is clear: maintaining good hydration is a simple and effective way to ensure workplace performance.

A further benefit of good hydration is stress reduction. When even mildly dehydrated, cortisol levels in the body increase. This chemical response raises stress levels, can interfere with sleep and negatively affect mood. Simply drinking plenty of water, however, can stave off these undesirable consequences.

Encouraging proper hydration is part of a sensible and holistic approach to workplace wellness. Consider the following tips to keep your workforce hydrated, feeling good and working well throughout the day:

Identify opportunities for hydration.

Encourage regular breaks to refresh concentration and refill water glasses and bottles. Always provide water at the start of meetings and don’t hesitate to refill in the course of proceedings.

Figure out how much water you and your colleagues need.

This amount will vary depending on age, the level of physical activity, the climate and the food consumed by each person. You can use this hydration calculator to find out your particular recommended volume.

Embrace apps.

As with much of our behaviour, you can track water intake and remind your staff to stay hydrated through apps.

Adopt a 1-to-1 rule.

For every hot drink you have, drink a glass of water. For every glass of juice you enjoy, drink a glass of water. For every snack you eat, drink a glass of water… You get the picture.

The matter of hydration is straightforward. Our bodies and brains need water to function. Water has zero calories and costs nothing. Drinking plenty of water has a huge range of health benefits and improves our mood. Given this deluge of reasons, don’t overthink things: drink plenty of water throughout the day to work well and feel good.


Further reading:

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