Ergonomics and Wellness – Part 4 – Keeping hydrated

Ergonomic risk factors arise when work tasks do not fit or exceed the capabilities of the worker.  I have written about how to change the physical work environment and tasks, but what can you do to increase your capabilities as a worker?  You should be able to work an 8-hour day without being extremely fatigued and without too much discomfort.  If this does not sound like your workday, consider making some changes:

4.  Hydration –

Drinking enough water is crucial during the day.  If your body is not hydrated enough, various functions start slow down due to dehydration.  Digestion of food slows, waste products are not removed quickly enough, there is not enough lubrication to protect your joints, and body temperature raises as there is not enough water to regulate heat.  You will start to feel fatigued and eventually ill.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 2.7 liters (91 ounces or 11 cups) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces or 15 cups) of total water.  General recommendations seem to indicate that 2 litres a day (8 cups) seems to keep most people hydrated.  The idea is to not get to the point where you’re thirsty because by then the dehydration process has already started.  On warm days, you will need to drink more to replace lost fluids from sweat.

Plain water is the best way to rehydrate.  Water with lemon or seltzer could be drank instead to spice it up a bit, but sugared and caffeinated beverages should be avoided as a main source of hydration.  Too much sugar will leave you fatigued (see previous Post) and caffeine actually dehydrates you because it increases your urine output.

Keep a glass of water or a water bottle with you at all times and sip continuously during the day.  This will keep you hydrated and energized – and ready for work!

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